Dehradun : Taking cognisance of the fact that the elephant problem in Uttarakhand had reached jumbo proportions because the forest corridors used by the pachyderms for migration had been lost to construction and developmental projects, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) intends getting a satellite survey done of all the 41 tiger reserves in the country to check the corridors that may have been lost due to construction activity.
The survey will be undertaken by the Forest Survey of India some time in the middle of this year. The main purpose of it will be to check whether the corridors that were in the forest divisions of the tiger reserves for the movement of the felines are still in tact, or they have been lost to the rampant construction that is taking place in and around these resorts.
Informed sources said that it had been brought to the notice of the NTCA that rampant construction had been done within and in the periphery of the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand , which had witnessed a considerable increase in the number of tigers over the past few years. The construction, of resorts in particular, was of all the more concern as they were coming up without due sanction from the forest authorities and were a threat to the wildlife in the region, they claimed.
They said that a survey had been done of the tiger population in the country in 2010, which had shown a healthy trend that there was an increase of almost 300 in the feline population in the country. But was damning was the fact that the survey also indicated that there was decline in the area of the tiger habitat, which meant little space for the felines, which are territorial animals.
Sources said that the survey would focus on what is the exact area of forest cover in the tiger reserves of the country and taking the feline numbers is it adequate to meet their territorial and other requirements; what are the changes that have taken place in the tiger reserves during the past two decades and how many corridors in these reserves have been lost and for what reasons.
They said that it was a matter of great concern that not only the population but activity in and around the tiger reserves was also on the rise which would affect the tiger conservation programme over the years. A large number of efforts have been put in the tiger conservation project in the past few years, and these are showing positive results, but the good work was in for a setback due to human activity in and around the reserves, they contended.
It may be mentioned here, that because of the forest corridors which were used by the elephant herds for migration in the Uttarakhand forests having been lost to development activities and rampant construction over the years, having been lost, the pachyderms were confined in pockets forcing them into direct conflict with man.
A recent study undertaken by the Wildlife Institute of India indicated that elephant-man conflict in Uttarakhand had increased manifold after 2001 and the pachyderms had killed 95 persons and injured another 65 during this period. There was also an increase in the number of incidents of wild herds entering agricultural fields and destroying the crops, because of which there were occasions when villagers also killed some elephants.