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Monday, April 16, 2012

Demand for Khandesh tiger reserve heats up

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 16, 2012, 02.57AM IST NAGPUR: With the state government notifying three new sanctuaries adjoining Navegaon, Nagzira and Bor recently, a demand for Khandesh tiger reserve in Jalgaon has cropped up by combining Yawal wildlife sanctuary and adjoining Vadoda forest range, which is brimming with tigers. On March 22, a tiger was found in a camera trap in Vadoda range of Jalgaon division. On September 7, TOI had reported how tigers have come back in Jalgaon district after a long gap. This forest enclave provides a habitat to several endangered species like leopards, sloth bear, blackbucks and other herbivores. Records show that a tigress delivered 3 cubs on January 2001 in Dolarkheda. In December 2007, two more cubs and a tigress was reportedly spotted. In 2011, pugmarks of tiger cubs were found. "The Vadoda range lies under the direct drainage of Hatnur dam on Tapi river. Hatnur's backwaters have turned into a good habitat with dense forests, natural vegetation and sufficient water. Tigers inhabit here as this area is well protected and undistributed," said Rajendra Nannaware, convenor of Satpuda Bachao Kriti Samiti, which is pushing for the Khandesh tiger reserve. He added, tigers move from Wan-Ambabarwa-Yawal towards Western Ghats. Nannaware said the samiti's future action plan includes conducting a ground level survey in Vadoda and Yawal sanctuary and publish a white paper on tiger habitat in the region. "We also plan to organise a state level tiger conference from October 24 to 26 in Jalgaon," he said. The camera trap picture was also shared with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). S P Yadav, deputy inspector general (DIG), NTCA, has said that he will take up the issue with state authorities. Satpuda ranges in Khandesh are known for its tall mountains and rich bio-diversity. The topology is ideal for wildlife, with rare species of flora and fauna nestling here. Yawal is 177.50 sq km while Vadoda range is 145 sq km. Khandesh is a low rainfall area and much of the district's water comes from forests of Satpuda ranges to the north. Yawal and its adjoining forests are sources to vital rivers, the largest being Sukkin and Aner, on which dams have been constructed in Jalgaon and Dhulia districts respectively. Water conservation is also key issue in Satpuda ranges. The samiti is a network of environmental organisations in Khandesh. With the initiative of School of Environment and Khandesh Nature Conservation Society (KNCS), this network is handling various environmental issues of the region. "We are working on impact of Forest Right Act (FRA) on forest and tiger conservation in Satpuda. We are claiming presence of tigers in the region for past several years, but forest authorities believed it only after sightings," said Nannaware. Some Facts Of The Matter - There were 14 cattle kills by tigers in Yawal between 1994-95 and 2003-04. Yawal is under threat from encroachments - On August 26, 2011, DR Patil, range forest officer (RFO), Vadoda, accepted presence of tigress with cubs in his area and demanded additional funds for conservation - Jalgaon district collector Dnyaneshwar Rajurkar formally announced presence of tigers in Vadoda on July 25, 2011 - Between March 18, 2011, movement of tiger was found in Savkheda near Pal forest in Raver taluka - On December 5, 2010 movement of two tigers was found near Bahipur in Nandurbar district. The spot is between Aner and Toranmal sanctuary of Khandesh

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