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The tiger finally reaches kawal sanctuary

                                                                       The Hindu, New Delhi, 18th September, 2015


S. Harpal Singh


Decrease in population of prey animals, however, needs to be addressed.


“The tiger has finally arrived at Kawal,” stated a jubilant Jannaram Divisional Forest Officer, G. Ravinder, after he saw pug marks of the big cat near Dongapalli and Kawal villages within a span of a week earlier this month. “It will be safe here,” he observed, alluding to the safety of a highly improved habitat that Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) has become since its inception in 2012.


Kawal was declared a tiger reserve without the presence of even a single wild cat only because it had the potential of regaining its past glory. It’s spread in an area of 893 sq km of dense tropical dry deciduous forest to which about 1,120 sq km of buffer area was added subsequently.


It was assumed, which now seems to have been done rightly, that given proper conservation of the place there is a huge possibility of tigers migrating from Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur adjoining Sirpur (T) forest in Adilabad district to their once glorious habitat of Kawal. “This tiger would have come from the TATR and travelled across Malini, Asifabad, Tiryani, Sirpur (U) before coming down the hilly range into KTR,” says KTR research associate Jogu Yellam.


As the tiger is an animal which is continuously on the move, it needs a completely safe habitat to become native, says Imran Siddqui of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HyTICOS), an NGO working towards tiger conservation in KTR. The government needs to look hard into this aspect as making the habitat safer involves voluntary relocation of villages to cut down human interference inside the forests.


The danger posed by anthropogenic disturbance to the survival of the big cat has been stressed upon in many scientific studies conducted at different Tiger Reserves across the country.


For example, the study ‘Glucocorticoid stress responses of reintroduced tigers in relation to anthropogenic disturbance in Sariska Tiger Reserve in India’ by Subhadeep Bhattarjee and other published in the Public Library of Science in June this year and ‘Studies to determine presence or absence of Indian tiger in Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary’ by P. Anuradha Reddy and others of CCMB, Hyderabad, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research in November 2010, make a vivid mention of the phenomenon.


The villagers of Dongapalli, Alinagar, Malial, Maisampet and Rampur located in the core area of KTR want to be relocated, yet the government is dithering the issue. The villagers are ready to accept the generous relocation package on offer.


Meanwhile, the troubling part is the decrease in the population of prey animals. Though the latest animal census figures have not been released yet, the population of ungulates and wild pigs decreased in 2014 to 4,300 and 2,500 from 6,000 each in 2013.