BENGALURU : Karnataka may soon have its own private wildlife reserves around Bandipur-Nagarhole-BRT national park or Kali, Bhimgad or Bhadra Tiger Reserves. While forest officials explain that this is to give more space to wildlife in a shrinking area and reduce man-animal conflicts, wildlife activists have decried the idea saying this is to provide a back-door entry to resort owners and realtors owning land on the fringes of protected areas.
The draft rules formulated in this regard is being taken up for discussion and finalisation in the coming week. The rues for setting up of ‘private wildlife reserves’ have been framed under the purview of Section 39 of Karnataka Forest Rules-1963 and Wildlife Protection Act-1972.The Karnataka Private Conservancy Rules-2018 will allow individuals or consortium of people owning land (minimum 100 acres) around or along protected areas (PA) to form ‘Wildlife Private Conservancy’. However, 5 per cent of this area can be utilised for construction of buildings (resorts, hotels, homestays) for the purpose of eco-tourism and related activities while rest of the area will be reserved for conservation of flora and fauna.
All forest, wildlife and environment laws and rules will be applicable in these private reserves. However, in the event of any damage caused by wildlife to life and property in these reserves, neither the owner, employees nor their guests will be entitled to any compensation or ex-gratia.
Private reserve management
For the management of private wildlife reserves, a management committee will be formed which will be responsible for conserving, maintaining and managing the reserve. This committee will, in turn, advise the chief wildlife warden on all such issues. The panel will comprise three members — owner of the private wildlife reserve, a wildlife conservationist and the jurisdictional forest officer not below the rank of an RFO.
Regulating its own procedures and its quorum, the management committee shall prepare its own management plan (as per MoEF guidelines) and also select and appoint its chief executive.
Even as there is a mixed opinion on the issue of permitting private conservancies, the state forest department has called for wide-ranging discussions on June 25. Forest officials, former PCCFs, State Wildlife Board members, wildlife organisations and resort owners have been invited to discuss the draft rules.
Forest officials said that although the idea may be good, implementation will be extremely tough. “Since space is shrinking for wildlife year after year, they are spilling over to human habitations. And this may help in increasing the habitat for wildlife, but management of such private reserves will be very tough, adhering to three important laws,” an official said.
Type Of Land For Inclusion
Agriculture, horticulture, plantation crop lands and other landscape areas can be brought under private conservancy and declared as ‘private forests.’
Dos and don’ts Entry to reserves will need permit
Permits do not exceed 15 days
Entrance fee to be fixed by committee
Breach in conditions liable for punishment
Forest officer to take action on offences
No compensation/payment for wildlife attacks
No night safari or flashlights permitted
Owner responsible for wildlife protection
Jurisdictional forest officer to have free access
No grazing, dairy, poultry, piggery or similar activities