BENGALURU: With settlements coming up around the Bandipur and Nagarhole tiger reserves, the Forest Department is trying to procure more land around them in order to prevent man-animal conflicts. In order to mount pressure on the state government and conservationists to aid them in their endeavour, the department now plans to highlight the ongoing tiger case, to get more land to strengthen the buffer zones.
The forest department officials are trying to capture a tiger which killed two people in 15 days near Gopalaswamy Betta range of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
Bandipur alone houses around 140 tigers and each tiger needs around 100 sqkm. However, at present each tiger has around 8-10 sqkm. The pressure on the forest land for tigers has increased. This has forced young sub-adults to look outside the forest areas for new territory leading to conflicts.
Sanjai Mohan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, told The New Indian Express that they were looking for help from all sources to get funds to strengthen the buffer zones and corridors. Citing the recent example of Hassan, he said that last year, the department surveyed the area to acquire farmland for strengthening the elephant corridor and farmers had quoted Rs 5- 10 lakh per acre.
The government agreed to hand over Rs 50 crore for this exercise last year. However, when farmers learnt about it, they then demanded that the land be acquired at the market rate which was higher than Rs 15 lakh per acre. So the exercise failed.
He said that it was very difficult around Bandipur and Nagarhole also, where there are many agricultural and private lands. Another senior forest department official said, “The Revenue Department was not helping either as they found no benefit in the forest land dealings. We are aware of the situation on ground. So we are putting it in front of the government and citing the problems to people.”
Forest officials admitted that they were helpless as the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of companies to help the department acquire land had also shown little or no result. Besides, government agencies are not coming forward either to purchase and hand over land around forest patches, where required. They are looking at cheaper far off locations, which serve little purpose.