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No move to declare Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary a tiger reserve: officials

The Hindu, Kalpetta, 29th August, 2014

 

Senior forest officials have denied a report on the alleged move of the State government to submit a proposal to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to declare the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) a tiger reserve. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden G. Harikumar told The Hindu on Thursday that the news was ‘fabricated and misleading.’ The Forest Department was yet to submit such a proposal to the NTCA or the Ministry of Forest, Environment, and Climate Change, he said. Some leading news channels reported that the Union Ministry had taken measures to declare the WWS a tiger reserve and it created apprehension among villagers, especially those living on the forest fringes. It was also reported that Union Minister for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar had responded positively to the proposal.

 

Benefits of plan However, N. Badusha, president of Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samiti, said this was the time to sensitise the public to the significance of setting up a tiger reserve, and its benefits. Some vested interest groups had already misled the public that if a reserve was set up, a lot of restrictions would be enforced on them, he said. Same norms The Wildlife Protection Act applied equally to a sanctuary and tiger reserve. So, no new norms would be imposed. On the other hand, setting up of a tiger reserve would be beneficial to the villagers as a huge fund would be allotted to the reserve for the conservation of tigers. It would also help expedite the ongoing voluntary relocation project for settlers inside the sanctuary, he added. Moreover, projects would be initiated to tackle the escalating man-animal conflict, he said. A camera-trap programme undertaken by the Forest Department in 2012 concluded that the sanctuary harboured at least 67 adult tigers and 11 cubs, an impressive number for a sanctuary spread over just 344.44 km.