Convert Kudremukh National Park into Tiger Reserve, asserts Jairam Ramesh

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DHARMASTHALA: Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh insisted that Kudremukh National Park (KNP) should be declared as Tiger Reserve. This comes in wake of opposition to the idea by Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, who during the campaign for Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha byelection, had said the government would cancel the Tiger Reserve status enjoyed by Bhadra Tiger Reserve, besides dropping the proposal to get KNP declared a Tiger Reserve.

On the sidelines of tri-decennial celebrations of Sri Kshetra Dharmastala Rural Development Programme here on Friday, the minister said that the state government should take necessary steps to convert Kudremukh into tiger reserve. “I had written a letter to then chief minister BS Yeddyurappa with suggestions to facilitate conversion of KNP into tiger reserve. I will discuss it Sadananda Gowda in Bangalore on June 23,” he added.

Out of 1,400 tribal families, who are residing in Kudremukh, 100 have already received the compensation and shifted from the forest, he said. “Applications of 600 families, who are willing to shift from Kudremukh, are pending before the state government for about 10 years. They are ready to come out of the forest, but the government has not taken initiative to rehabilitate them property, Ramesh said adding that families will be given a minimum compensation of Rs 10 lakh.

“We are receiving information that left wing extremist activities are taking place in the area. Meanwhile, there is opposition from the local political parties too. It is a matter of urgency that families should be relocated and compensated adequately. Then only we will be able to check naxal activities,” Ramesh said.

Asserting that no families will be evicted forcibly from forests, Ramesh said, “All facilities will be provided to tribals who do not want to come out of forest.” Declaring KNP as Tiger Reserve does not include Bhadra – Kudremukh corridor project. “The union government has no proposal to implement such a corridor project as part of the announcement of Tiger Reserve,” he added.

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Goa to be part of Tiger Reserve complex?

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KERI: Bereft of any details of wildlife in Goa, including that of big cats in the state, the ‘status of wildlife in the state of Goa’ report, nonetheless, offers a roar of support to former environment minister Jairam Ramesh‘s ‘Tiger Reserve‘ suggestion.

Referring extensively to the state’s past wildlife censuses, the report by the Wildlife Institute of IndiaDehradun, states, “The tiger occupied landscape in Goa forms part of the corridor connecting Anshi-Dandeli in Karnataka and Sahyadri Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. Goa can potentially be home to a small feeding population of tigers which would be sustained by immigrants from Anshi-Dandeli as well as Sahyadri. It would hence benefit from being incorporated as part of Tiger Reserve complex.”

The report, compiled by Bilal Habib and Gautam Talukdar of WII, has synthesized the result of the 2010 wildlife census following the MoEF-laid down protocols of phase-I of country-wide assessment of the status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India. The first census was in 2006.

The present report notes, “Goa is not a tiger range state therefore the second and third phases for nationwide monitoring programme were not carried out in Goa.” But, referring to the 2010 census that recorded the tiger’s presence in Mollem wildlife sanctuary and in the forests of Ponda and Sanguem talukas, it notes, “Tiger occupancy within the state is about 322 sq km.” It attributes this to the phase-I monitoring that reported the occupancy of six species of carnivores, with the leopard occupying the large area of 1611.28 sq km, and sloth bears, jackal, wild dog and tiger in 322 sq km.

When contacted, additional principal chief conservator of forests Richard D’Souza told TOI, “The WII report has not given specific numbers of carnivores if any, rather they have given about zoning areas.”

Amrutsingh, president, Animal Rescue Squad, Bicholim, said, “It is surprising for us that status of wildlife in the state of Goa has not mentioned anything about tiger movements, when the area has the presence of a tigress, cubs and a male tiger.”

Paresh Parob, the newly-appointed range forest officer of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary said, “We are aware about the tigers’ movements in the sanctuary and the department has taken necessary steps for the protection of the big cats.”

Times View

After years of hearing the government deny the tiger’s presence in Goa, despite the pug marks, the scats, the cattle attacks and in 2009 a very disturbing photo of a slain big cat in Keri, the Wildlife Institute of India’s report is a refreshing change. Details would have, of course, corroborated the cause vastly. It’s now left to be seen whether the government can change its own stripes on the issue.

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