Friday, May 3, 2013

Happy announcement for nature lovers

On the floor of the Tamil Nadu Assembly the Tamil Nadu CM announced the formation of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu) yesterday. This is great news indeed for the Melagiri region. A dream come true for many a conservationist.

The contiguous forests of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri Districts consisting of several reserve forests and riverine, hilly and plateau regions are commonly referred to as the Melagiri Region. The forest extends for nearly 2500 sq. km of the Eastern Ghats, and of this, about 1500 sq km constitutes Melagiri. In fact our Bannerghatta National Park forms the Northern tip of Melagiri, and Cauvery River beyond Mekadatu and up to Hogenekal (nearly 60 kms)  are also part of Melagiri.

About 500 sq km along the Cauvery River has been designated as a sanctuary. Melagiris is contiguous with the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary of Karnataka. To be precise - one bank of the river falls under Karnataka while the other bank belongs to Tamil Nadu.

'Sanctuary' status was a much needed thing as this will ensure the kind of protection that is required to protect the several Endangered, Vulnerable and Near Threatened species of birds and animals. Melagiri is home to elephants, bears, leopards, gaur, sambar, chital and many more smaller animals and birds. Up until the late 70s tigers were seen.

This region has been plundered by all kinds of smugglers and poachers for a very very long time, including the infamous Veerappan.  Sandalwood and elephant tusks were the main target along with several other trees and all kinds of animals. The tiger was completely wiped out due to several reasons including poaching, lack of prey species (which were hunted and snared) and human invasion.

Hopefully this announcement of converting a part of the Melagiri from 'Reserve Forest' to 'Sanctuary' should ensure the much needed protection for the surrounding forest of Melagiri. A special thanks to Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) which relentlessly pursued the Tamil Nadu government to designate the region as a 'Sanctuary'. Though only a part of the region has been designated as one, it is the first step towards conserving the whole extent of the Melagiris.

This is only a beginning and a lot must be done to safeguard this jewel of a region that has been neglected for a very long time now. Elephants use this as an important corridor to move along the Eastern Ghats and towards the Niilgiri Biosphere which is quite a long way from the Cauvery.

One can also get to see a part of the Melagiri when driving beyond Hosur and it goes on for a long distance and up to Salem almost. Unfortunately the Highway beyond Hosur  has cut through the Eastern Ghats, thus cutting off the migratory root of the elephants and other larger herbivores. In the recent past a herd of 17 elephants crossed the highway and went on to go towards and across the Andhra border.  Eventually these elephants were driven back (though they reckon some more are there on the other side).

Trustee, PNLIT and Founder Member, KANS

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