The state Forest Department received an update from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), coming under the Ministry of Environment and Forests stating that it will start funding tiger conservation activities in the newly carved out Srivilliputhur – Megamalai Tiger Reserve (SMTR) coming in Theni bordering Tamil Nadu and Kerala from Wednesday.
The second good news from the field foresters is the regular sightings of Tigers near Suruli falls, a popular tourist destination near Cumbum valley. The COVID imposed lockdown has brought the wild cats closer to the falls area, wildlife sources said. According to informed department sources, NTCA is the apex body for the protection of tigers and every year the NTCA funds more than 50 tiger reserves across the country based on the tiger population and the forest cover. Based on the size and the tiger estimates the state authorities are hoping somewhere from Rs 4 to 5 crores for the maintenance of SMTR, which is more than what many municipalities receive as funds from the Centre.
“This new announcement from the NTCA means additional funding to protect the big cats and there will be job opportunities for those into wildlife conservation and research works,” said TN chief wildlife warden Shekar Kumar Niraj. This financial approval for the tiger reserve will help the local foresters to appoint more anti-poaching watchers and eco-tourist guides. The wildlife tourism in the area will now be regularised with standard safety protocols. This funding is also crucial to educate people on water conservation and provide job opportunities for local tribes and people living close to the forest area.
“Better tiger conservation and regulated eco-tourism is the need of the hour and the model practiced in Kabini tiger reserve is excellent. Further, there are reports that the Tiger sightings in the Surli falls area is encouraging and this is good news,” opined KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust. When you protect a flagship species like tigers, you protect the entire forest habitat and the NTCA has acknowledged the state’s work that has gone in developing the new tiger reserve. Now with tigers ruling this part of land projects like neutrino and road expansions should be stopped, he added.