BENGALURU: In the wake of the increasing man-tiger conflict and death of big cats, the forest department is working towards expanding the existing tiger reserve, even if they are buffer zones.
The subject of strengthening tiger reserves and buffer zones have become crucial after two tigers died in two weeks in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve (NTR). Department officials are working on increasing the 653 sq km of NTR by adding buffer zones. One such is Ponnampet, near Coorg.
The place has gained importance because of the increasing sightings of sub-adult tigers in the area, which are creating their territory.
Around 10 sub-adults have been reported through camera traps and direct sightings.
Ponnampet houses many villagers and is a buffer between NTR and Bramhagiri wildlife sanctuary. It is also important because two tigers were killed here in 2018. The area was a traditional tiger migratory path in the 1950- 60s.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife), Sanjai Mohan told TNIE that since NTR houses a large number of tigers, sub-adults are venturing out, looking for new spaces to create their territory.
The proposal of adding Ponnampet has been welcomed by conservationists, however, they expressed fear about apprehensions from locals. They suggested that the department should gain the confidence of locals by involving them, to ensure there are no poisoning cases.
The department is also looking at Periyapatna and Hunsur ranges. Work is already under progress on 200 sq km in Periyapatna range, which was notified as a buffer in 2012.
K Narayanswamy, director of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve said that the work on legally adding Periyapatna is underway.
He said that 200 sq km buffer and 300 sq km corridor around NTR has been added.