Armed with the recent report on status of tigers, co-predators and prey, the Kerala Forest Department will revive its campaign for a tiger reserve in Wayanad, which is home to a significant number of big cats.
The Wayanad Wild Life Sanctuary has 120 individuals tigers and a tiger density of 9.33 tigers in 100 sq km.
The report noted that the sanctuary had more tigers and higher density of tigers than many other reserves and should be gazetted as a tiger reserve. The report had yielded 1,380 tiger detections, including 29 images of cubs.
The contiguous network of Tiger Reserves and Protected Areas of Nagarhole-Bandipur- Wayanad- Mudumalai- Sathyamangalam- BRT complex, which has an estimated tiger population of 724, supports the highest number of wild tigers in India. It was also noted that together with the adjoining tiger reserves of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, this region is home to the largest tiger and elephant population in the world.
Earlier, an attempt of the Forest Department to push the campaign for the reserve was shot down by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at a meeting of the State Wildlife Advisory Board.
While turning down the proposal, which had earlier generated public protests in the district, the Chief Minister noted that such proposals should be implemented after public consultations. It was the human-animal conflicts in the region and the reported instances of tigers lifting cattle and straying into human habitations that stoked the fear among general public. The department should once again raise the issue at the next meeting of the board.
The notification of the sanctuary, said Surendrakumar, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, was one of the effective ways for tiger conservation and mitigating the human-animal conflicts in the region.
The department will revive the efforts for a reserve in Wayanad. The notification would ensure adequate funding from various agencies, which could be used for addressing the human-animal conflicts. If not notified, the present situation may continue for long, which may not be beneficial of the general public, he said.