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Acclaim for Periyar, Parambikulam tiger reserves

K.S. Sudhi



A camera trap image of a tiger from the Periyar Tiger Reserve. A file photo.

KOCHI: The Periyar and Parambikulam tiger reserves in Kerala have been adjudged two of the best managed reserves in the country.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had jointly evaluated the 41 reserves for its management effectiveness, including tiger conservation programmes.

The reserves, which scored 240 points each, were included on the very good category by the evaluators. The assessment report was presented at a meeting of the Chief Wildlife Wardens of the States and the Field Directors of the reserves in New Delhi last week. V.B. Mathur, dean of the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, presented the report.

The management practices followed in the Periyar reserve had won appreciation at the national level earlier. It was assessed as a “good” reserve in the ‘Tiger Reserves-Evaluation of Status and Monitoring' carried out by the Ministry in 2009.

This time, the tiger reserves were evaluated for 30 parameters with scores assigned to each criteria, including habitat management. Besides the management practices, the tiger population patterns were also evaluated using the tiger data generated during the 2006 and 2010 tiger count, said N.V. Trivedi Babu, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala.

The tiger population in Kerala was found stable and the management effectiveness was quite high. It was also suggested that the present management practices followed in the Kerala reserves could continue. The two reserves were among the best five in the country, Mr. Babu said.

In the Parambikulam reserve, the Tiger Conservation Plan was not prepared at the time of assessment as it was one of the newly formed reserves, said O.P. Kaler, Field Director of the reserve.

The plan was finalised subsequently. The buffer zone of the reserve was not demarcated during the assessment period. The delay in the formation of a tiger foundation at the reserve had also affected the rating. The overall score of the reserve would have improved if the plan was ready when the reserve was evaluated. The proposal for forming the foundation was pending with the State government for nearly a year, Mr. Kaler said.

South India reserves

While assessing the reserves in southern India, the evaluators observed that record keeping and documentation of wildlife offences need to be improved.

The Bandipur, Nagarhole, Bhadra and Dandeli- Anshi reserves of Karnataka; Periyar and Parambikulam; and the Kalakad–Mundanthurai, Anamalai, and Mudumalai reserves of Tamil Nadu were assessed by a team led by C.K. Sreedharan. The team had E.A. Jayson, Yogesh Dubey and A.K. Bharadwaj as members.

The experts highlighted the absence of well-trained personnel in these reserves in the report. Inadequate arms and ammunition, lack of storage and maintenance of arms and equipment were also pointed out.

The evaluators suggested that the staff should be provided “immunity from action” for the genuine use of firearms.

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