‘Captive breeding in parks soon to strengthen prey-base for carnivores’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Jun 2018 12:22:00


By Ramesh Marulkar,

Wildlife Wing of Forest Department is seriously thinking to introduce captive breeding of sambars and release them to increase prey-base in the protected areas where prey density is comparatively less.This step is being taken up shortly in the areas of Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) and Umrer-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary (UKWLS), where carnivores like tigers and leopards find it difficult to satisfy their hunger. There were increasing cases of cattle kills in the villages just outside UKWLS, when the iconic tiger ‘Jai’ used to prefer on easy prey around two years ago. This habit could be the reason for inviting doom’s day for him.

Similarly, Navegaon area in NNTR has also very poor base, making carnivores/predators pull on life in absence of food. This also ultimately resulted in man-animal conflict villages situated in and around jungle. A tigress after recovering from injuries in Moharli was released in Navegaon that killed two persons and domestic animals in absence of proper prey base there. She strayed towards Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh in search of food and an irate mob of villagers killed her with sticks in Bakhrutola village on September 23, 2011.

The captive breeding and releasing sambars in carnivore bearing areas would help big cats avoid straying towards human settlements and thus reducing man-animal conflict, which is a disturbing element for the department. Moreover, such sambars could be released as food for a tigress having delivered cubs because she searches prey in a radius of two km from the spot of the cubs for some months.

Talking to ‘The Hitavada’ here on Friday, Sunil Limaye, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), East Region, Nagpur, said that the authorities from Pench and Panna Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh made a successful experiment on captive breeding in their parks. The State Forest Department is also implementing this plan on the lines of Madhya Pradesh to provide relief to carnivores, he added. At the same time, Limaye said, the department is concentrating on habitat improvement in NNTR, UKWLS, Melghat Tiger Reserve and other protected jungle areas, especially at the rehabilitated villages. Sehima, a type of local grass known as ‘Pavnya’ is being promoted in these areas for herbivores. The other varieties have not yet been finalised, he added.

A workshop has been organised on June 6 at Amravati in which officers from Amrvati, Yavatmal Forest Circles and Melghat Tiger Reserve will discuss areas where the work of developing meadows as suggested in the working plan and management plan could be taken up. This would provide vegetation to wild animals like spotted deer, bisons, sambars and others. On the other side, the breeding in captivity would fulfill the requirements of carnivores, Limaye pointed out. Habitat improvement is a continuous process. The part of money collected at the entry gates of different parks is spent on making habitat improvement by developing grasslands and meadows and some money is used to help local people get gainful employment. Moreover, the work of installing solar panels at all the saucer-shaped cement tanks.

As for developing corridors, Limaye said that the population of tigers and other wild animals is increasing and hence they move from one place to other. He cited the example of recently-declared Ghodazari Wildlife Sanctuary, which proves to be an important corridor for tigers from Umrer-Karhandla to Tadoba. The department is taking steps to maintain habitat, meadows and availability of water but corridors have no legal status. In case an important industry comes up in such places then the department has to take up mitigation measures for wildlife such as patrolling by STPF at underpasses and places of water. It also used secret funds for creating of information network.

A Rs 14 crore project of International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is being implemented on “Integrated Habitat Conservation & Eco-development in Vidarbha Tiger Landscape” in Melghat, Pench, Bor and Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve areas and corridor villages. The programme is taken up in cooperation with representatives of 19 NGOs and so far Rs 3.70 crore have been spent on different activities such as protecting tigers, other animals, solar panelling at waterholes, installing 1 HP submersible pumps at bore-wells, desilting, awareness, livelihood of locals, reducing man-animal conflict etc., Limaye pointed out.