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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Govt maps 32 tiger corridors, develops conservation plan

india Updated: Dec 05, 2019 05:38 IST
Hindustantimes
         

Mumbai: The Centre has mapped tiger corridors inside and outside protected areas across the country and developed a conservation plan for big cats, which includes a strategy to streamline infrastructure projects with mandatory inclusion of safe passages.

Union minister of state for environment Babul Supriyo released the details of the plan in Rajya Sabha on Monday. The plan has been formulated keeping in view the all India tiger estimation results released in July that showed there were 2,967 big cats in the country and that there has been a 6% annual increase in their numbers since 2006.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), under the Union environment ministry, has published a document, titled Connecting Tiger Populations for Long-term Conservation, in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun. The document maps 32 major corridors and details the tiger conservation plan under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

“These maps have been developed since 2014 and have been constantly updated over the past five years,” said NTCA’s additional director general, Anup Nayak. “We are currently collating information on how these corridors are being utilised by tigers. These maps are further being modified with microlevel landscape details and we are exploring the possibility of including more corridors by next year.”

WII wildlife biologist (NAME) said that these corridors have been assessed and developed based on annual tiger estimation exercises over 15 years based on preliminary big cat dispersal information.

The NTCA has developed a three-level strategy to manage negative human-tiger interactions under the Centre’s long-term tiger conservation program. The strategy involves providing material, logistical and financial support to tiger reserves to deal with big cats dispersing out of protected areas. It also seeks to ensure safe dispersal of tigers by limiting habitat interventions (facilitating dispersal to other rich habitat areas), and to follow the NTCA’s standard operating procedures to deal with human-animal and livestock conflict after dispersal.

Nayak said that while they are not against development, it has to be balanced with conservation. “The basic purpose of identifying these 32 corridors is to streamline linear infrastructure projects with mandatory inclusion of mitigation measures for safe passage of tigers,” said Nayak. Nayak added that the process of sensitising agencies such as the railways, highway operators etc is already underway.

The Centre has allocated Rs 350 crore for tiger conservation to states in 2019. Maharashtra (Rs 37 crore) has got the maximum funds, followed by Madhya Pradesh (Rs 29 crore) and Assam (Rs 21 crore).

Experts said that the corridors cover almost all major areas witnessing tiger movement. “The Centre, however, has to improve the speed of relocating villagers from core areas of tiger reserves, and also enhance rehabilitation of hunting communities. Enforcement measures are well covered but need to be further strengthened,” said Wildlife Protection Society of India’s programme coordinator, Tito Joseph.

The list of tiger corridors includes three across Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh bordering Nepal in Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains. As many as 11 of them are across Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. Eight of the corridors are located across Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the remaining 10 are in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal.

The corridors across states are important as big cats travel long distances. A tiger travelled 1,300 km over two states (Maharashtra and Telangana), six districts and four wildlife sanctuaries in about 150 days exploring a new area to set up its territory, according to the Maharashtra forest department study based of the data from radio-collaring WHEN?. “This is the largest recorded distance travelled by any tiger in India identifying and validating the presence of tiger corridors inside and outside protected forest areas,” said Ravikiran Govekar, field director, Pench Tiger Reserve.