The tiger population distribution pattern in Karnataka calls for the augmentation of buffer zones and ensuring protection to corridors connecting national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, according to experts.
This is imperative to ensure that buffer zones act as a sink to absorb tigers, from sites where their numbers have reached saturation levels.
The tigers, co-predators and prey report, based on the enumeration exercise completed two years ago, also highlights this aspect.
In some parts of Karnataka, there are as many tigers or more in the territorial division as there are in the designated tiger reserve, and hence securing buffer zones and corridors connecting them with core areas is critical, the report states.
For instance, in the Madikeri territorial division, which is spread over 369 sqkm, at least 10 tigers were identified by camera traps. Similarly, 11 were identified in the Hunsur division and nine in the Virajpet division based on their stripe patterns. This matches the figures for Bhadra, which harbours a minimum of 30 tigers, and it is more than what was present at M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, where eight tigers were identified.
Sanjay Gubbi, conservation biologist, said tigers are found in Hunsur, Madikeri, and Virajpet divisions because they constitute a single ecological unit and absorb spillover population from Nagarahole, which has a minimum of 127 tigers, as per the report. One should not view territorial divisions in isolation as the ecological boundary of a landscape does not end just because of a demarcated administrative boundary, he said, pointing out that Madikeri, Virajpet, and Hunsur forests act as a sink to Nagarahole.
The co-predator and prey report identifies various corridors connecting different forest reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka to sustain tiger population growth. Mr. Gubbi pointed to reserve forests outside protected areas in Hassan, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, and Belagavi which, if protected, will provide for contiguous forests to sustain wildlife.