CHENNAI: In an effort to revive the tiger population in Hosur division, the State government on Tuesday declared around 686 sq km (68,640 hectares), across 20 Reserve Forests in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri, as the Cauvery South Wildlife Sanctuary. This is TN’s 17th sanctuary. Officials say, big cats went extinct in this division decades ago but recently, they made a return to the landscape.
Hosur division field officers confirmed tiger pugmarks were found in the sanctuary area, Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary to the government in the environment, climate change and forests department, said.
“This landscape is connected to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve through Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Billigiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve of Karnataka, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, and Erode Forest Division. We suspect spillover tigers began to occupy these ranges” she said.
Gazette notification of the sanctuary was issued by the environment, climate change, and forests department. The State accepted the proposal submitted by the principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden. After studies on the revival of the tiger population, it can be upgraded into a tiger reserve, Sahu said.
The proposal solidified in September 2020, when locals, while hunting a goat, were surprised to find a tiger’s pugmark in Thally RF at Chatramdodd, K Karthikayani, wildlife warden, Hosur, said. “Tigers are being recorded in camera traps on Karnataka side 100 m from TN boundary. Last month, the National Tiger Conservation Authority asked us to hold a sign survey and send data for All India Tiger Estimation.”
Following the declaration, activities to improve habitat will be undertaken with funds from Centrally-sponsored schemes, said Karthikayani. “This will lead to recovery of the prey base. The area can support a tiger population again.”
CM Stalin said the declaration of the 17th wildlife sanctuary was a significant step in conserving TN’s biodiversity. The declared area falls under the jurisdiction of three forest ranges, Urigam, Anchetty, and Jawalgiri. It has two elephant corridors: Nandimangalam-Ulibanda Corridor and Kovaipallam-Anebiddahalla Corridor. The sanctuary is home to 35 species of mammals and 238 species of birds.
(With inputs from Sivaguru from Krishnagiri)