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Wildlife sanctuary area in Kannur increases

Mohamed Nazeer

Formation of Kottiyur Wildlife Sanctuary notified

KANNUR: The total extent of wildlife sanctuary (WLS) in the district has increased with the formation of the new Kottiyur Wildlife Sanctuary in addition to the existing Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary.

The State government notified the formation of the Kottiyur WLS having a total extent of 3,037.98 hectares. The Aralam WLS, the northernmost protected area in the State, was constituted in 1984 having an extent of 5,500 ha. The government is yet to decide whether the new WLS will be under the administrative control of the Aralam Wildlife Division or the Kannur Forest Division. Forest and Wildlife Department sources say that the new sanctuary is all likely to be under the Aralam division.

The Aralam WLS was formed by carving out areas from the Odenthodu Malavaram of the erstwhile Thalassery Forest Division and from the Kottiyur Reserve Forest (RF) of the then Waynad Forest Division. The remaining area of the Kottiyur RF that is contiguous to the Aralam WLS consists of evergreen and semi-evergreen forests and is a biodiversity-rich area. It is included in the list of Important Bird Area by the Birdlife International and the Bombay Natural History Society. It is this remaining area of the Kottiyur RF that has now been constituted as the Kottiyur WLS with the notification on March 22 last.

Along with the proposal for the Kottiyur WLS, the proposals for extending the Aralam WLS and for forming another WLS – Thirunelli WLS – were also submitted to the government and were approved by the State Wildlife Board. The proposals for expanding the Aralam sanctuary and creating the two new sanctuaries had been discussed at a meeting of people's representatives a few months ago convened by the Forest and Wildlife Department for clearing reservations about the proposals. At that meeting there was a broad consensus on the expansion of the Aralam WLS and the formation of the Kottiyur WLS, while the people's representatives from Mananthavady raised their objections to the proposal for creating the Thirunelli WLS. The proposal for the Thirunelli WLS would now be decided by the new government coming to power in the State, Forest officials here said. The expansion proposal was awaiting approval from the Central Wildlife Board.

The present Aralam WLS comprised part of the Kottiyur RF and vested forests.

According to the expansion proposal, the Chathirurmala and Neerkunnumala vested forests, which are continuous at north-western side of the Aralam WLS and form part of the Aralam landscape, harbour many rare and endangered species. Hence the proposal to include these areas in the Aralam WLS. Once the sanctuary is expanded, its total area will be 6,535.62 ha.

The proposed Thirunelli WLS includes the Thirunelli RF and the Hilldale RF in Wayanad which are contiguous to the Aralam WLS and is equally biodiversity rich.

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