BANGALORE: If everything goes well, Karnataka is likely to get the second exclusive sanctuary for sloth bears.
The proposed sanctuary is coming up in Handigundi Forest in Ramanagaram taluk.
Called ‘Handigundi Sloth Bear Sanctuary’, it will be spread over 4,585 hectares.
The State’s first sloth bear sanctuary is at Daroji near Hampi in Bellary district.
The Ramanagaram Division of the Forest Department has already sent a proposal to the State Government seeking announcement of the State’s sloth bear sanctuary in the division.
The Government, in turn, has sought a census of sloth bears in the entire block.
The department is now carrying out the census, of these sloth bears, which will come as handy for the government to declare it as sanctuary.
Location and Number of Bears
The proposed sanctuary is situated 3.5 km from the Ramanagaram town and near the busy Mysore-Bangalore State Highway.
According to an estimate, there are around 100 to 120 sloth bears in the Handigundi block.
Besides, the department has recorded the movement of sloth bears in Bannatmari, Tenginkal and Savandurga forests.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) of Ramanagaram Division P S Ranavat told Express that the rockstrewn area in and around Ramanagaram town is best suited for the sloth bears.
“Besides, there are shrubs on the hillocks which are safest for these hairy animals.
The area in Handigundi Forest is similar to Daroji in Bellary district and because of this reason, there are sufficient number of sloth bears in the entire block.” Ranavat said the department has, so far, not conducted any study to notice the striking similarity between Daroji and Handigundi except for the common features like strewn rocks, shrubs and umpteen number of hillocks.
For all these reasons, the sloth bears feel it safe to be in the rocky area and lead a care-free life without any intervention of humans.
Once the government declares Handigundi Forest as Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Ranavat said, “There will be a huge scope for the management of bear population in the whole of sanctuary.
The other advantage is that the sanctuary will come under the direct supervision of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden and there will be chances of getting additional funds from the government for conservation activities.” Apart from sloth bears, this area has a good number of elephants and in fact, the Elephant Corridor passes through the Handigundi Forest.
Sometimes, the elephants which pass through this forest reach Bannerghatta Biological Park.