Tamil Nadu To Get Its 5th Tiger Reserve, Making It Country’s 51st

The location of the new tiger reserve will also enable it to be a buffer for Kerala’s Periyar Reserve Tigers.

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The location of the new tiger reserve will also enable it to be a buffer for Kerala’s Periyar Reserve Tigers.
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In what comes as a major boost for wildlife and nature conservation, Tamil Nadu will now have a new tiger reserve, encompassing over one lakh hectares of land that falls under the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary and Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Union government granted approval for the state’s fifth tiger reserve following a letter from the Tamil Nadu government on 7 January. This was based on the technical committee meeting that was held on 22 January. The state government will notify the reserve as soon as the Union government does.

Environmentalists, for a decade, have been demanding for the creation of the fifth tiger reserve to improve water management and the number of tigers in the region.

According to a report in The Hindu, the 1.48 lakh hectares of land – encompassing the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (spread across the districts of Theni and Madurai) and Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary, which adjoins Kerala’s Periyar Tiger Reserve and Tirunelveli’s Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve – is being declared as the state’s fifth tiger reserve.

The new reserve’s location will also enable it to be a buffer for Kerala’s Periyar Reserve Tigers as well. So far, forest officials have identified 14 tigers in Meghamalai and Srivilliputhur wildlife sanctuaries.

Between 2017 and 2018, forest officials analysed scat samples (for dietary analysis) that confirmed the presence of at least 14 tigers.

Meghamalai, which has a lot of cardamom hills, has a large population of ungulates (hoofed mammals), spotted deers, Indian gaurs, wild boars and other carnivores. Srivilliputhur, on the other hand, hosts grizzled giant squirrels, flying squirrels, leopards, Nilgiri tahrs, jungle cats, Sambars, elephants and many species of birds, including the lion-tailed macaque.

Conservationists believe that by declaring the Meghamalai-Srivilliputhur Tiger reserve, there are great chances for the Vaigai River rejuvenation.

India presently has 50 tiger reserves and the latest addition in Tamil Nadu will become the country’s 51st reserve. Kalakkad Mundanthurai was Tamil Nadu’s first Tiger reserve, created between 1988 and 1989. Then came Anamalai and Mudumalai formed between 2008 and 2009. The state’s fourth tiger reserve is Sathyamangalam, which was formed between the years 2013 and 2014.

(This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission)

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