The State forest department is all set to expand the territory of Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) by comprising adjacent buffer areas to an extent which is larger than the size of Madurai city.
“Area under the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) will be expanded from 958.59 sqkm to 1,104 sqkm and the process of handing over the land will be completed within the department. The proposal is eight-years-old and was mooted in 2012. The next major proposal that is awaiting a nod from the centre is the announcement of Megamalai tiger reserve,” a senior wildlife official said adding that the ranges now coming under Kodaikanal wildlife sanctuary will move to the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. The process will help the conservationists and the forest department to have a better wildlife protocol in place.
The State government had earlier directed Kodaikanal wildlife sanctuary in Dindigul district to hand over 146 sqkm from its buffer zone to ATR. ATR will now be spread over Pollachi, Valparai, Udumalpet, Palani and Kodaikanal covering three districts of Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Dindigul, wildlife sources said.
“TN is one of the protected states when it comes to big cats. The fresh signs of tigers in Kodaikanal and Palani have been documented by the foresters through camera traps and the presence of strong faecal samples point out the tiger ranges in these spread out areas and the expansion of ATR is a much-needed move,” said conservation scientist A Kumaraguru of Sathyamangalam Tiger Conservation Foundation.
As per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) findings, the tiger population is observed to be increasing at a rate of 6 per cent per annum in India and ATR has potential to increase its tiger count.
The best tiger reserves like Mudumalai and Nagarhole has a tiger for every 11 square kilometres, while for ATR it is around 15 to 17 square kilometre. ATR has the potential to increase its big cat population, Kumaraguru explained.
Any dedicated project focussing a tiger reserve will help the state to handle its natural resources better. The expansion of ATR will also help to strengthen the force department’s patrol in the protected region, he added.