The new tiger reserve will help save Vaigai river, say activists
Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve is the fifth tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu.
In a government order, State Forests Secretary Sandeep Saxena has declared the creation of Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve on Monday.
An area of 1,01,657.13 hectares or 1016.5713 sq.km in Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Sanctuary and Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary have been combined to create the tiger reserve.
“With this new tiger reserve, Vaigai river and its catchment areas will be fully protected. The river, battling for its life, will be saved. This will help in the long term sustenance of people in several southern districts,” says a senior forest official.
“With the creation of Periyar and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserves, the water needs of several southern districts have mostly been taken care of. With the new Srivilliputhur – Megamalai Tiger Reserve, the forests will be better protected and the Vaigai river, its tributaries will start flowing again,” says T.S. Subramaniya Raja of Wildlife Association of Rajapalayam.
“We have seen how the formation of tiger reserves have kept the rivers perennial – be it Tamirabarani because of KMTR or Bhavani and Moyar rivers because of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, or even Periyar river,” notes another activist.
According to the concept note, tiger disperses in large areas and such dispersals are important for the exchange of genes. This process is essential for long term growth of a population.
ln Tamil Nadu, Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) provides one of the largest habitats
for the tigers and other co-predators. However, environmental stress factors
such as availability of prey, availability of potential males, and absence of human
caused disturbances could make the tigers move and give rise to metapopulation that could generate more genetic resources for populations to grow further.
Now, tigers from the neighboring Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Anamalai Tiger Reserve regions can find significant habitats and breeding and home ranges in the highly undulating terrains of Srivilliputhur and Megamalai hilly tracts.
ln fact, the forested habitats of the Srivilliputhur regions, which are largely uninhabited and undisturbed, could provide excellent buffering grounds to the tigers of Periyar Tiger Reserve as much as they can offer excellent genetic exchange grounds for the tigers of Anamalai region.
“Tiger comes at the end. Tigers, forests, rivers, climate change. It is a continuum. The creation of the new tiger reserve will help us get the required technical and financial support from national and international level to protect and preserve this tiger landscape,” the forest official emphasises.
“With the origins of the Vaigai river heavily encroached, the river was dying. Now, the government has shown that it is farmer friendly and that the lives of one crore people dependent on Vaigai river in the five districts are important and not the votes of about 4,000 encroachers. The encroachers have to be removed as per the Madras High Court order,” says a Theni-based activist, requesting anonymity.
Source: Read Full Article