Recent tiger sightings in the Nallamala forest region of the Nandyal district have resulted in scared and restless nights for locals. (Representative Image: Facebook)
KURNOOL: While forest officials are attempting to ensure privacy and protection for tigers in the Nallamala forest areas to safeguard their reproductive cycle, the locals are facing serious problems in their free movement in these areas.
With a view to prioritizing the privacy and protection of tigers, access to the Nallamala forest has been suspended for three months, specifically for entertainment-related activities. However, some tigers are venturing into nearby habitations in search of prey.
Recent tiger sightings in the Nallamala forest region of the Nandyal district have resulted in scared and restless nights for locals. The Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve area spans Kurnool, Guntur and Prakasam in Andhra Pradesh and Mahaboobnagar and Nalgonda in Telangana, encompassing 147 tribal hamlets with a population of 15,000 and 171 Chenchu Gudems with 6,950 families.
The reserve area covers approximately 5,937 square km, with a core forest area of around 2,550 square km. The 2022 wildlife census in the Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve confirmed the presence of 75 tigers in its boundaries.
From July to September, the breeding season for tigers, any disturbances can obstruct their reproductive process. Tigers have a gestation period of 16 weeks and the breeding period lasts 93 to 112 days. Cubs become independent by the age of 18 months but do not leave their mothers until they reach 2-2.5 years of age, wildlife officials say.
Traffic to the Nallamala Tiger Reserve has been suspended from July 1 to September 30, to ensure protection to tigers. Officials said there are restrictions in Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve to the movement of tourists and devotees in holy places and tourism centres within the reserve.
Several locations, including the Ishtakameswari Devi temple in Markapuram forest division, the Rudrakoduru and Gundla Brahmeswaram shrines in Velugodu, theBairluty Jungle Safari, the Tummalabayalu Ecotourism Centre in Markapuram division and the Jungle Safari will be temporarily suspended during this period, informed deputy director of forests, Atmakur, Alan Teron.
Recent tiger sightings near the human habitations close to the Nallamala forest, such as Pedda Anantapuram, Sakshi Ganapati temple in Srisailam, and Pedda Gummadapuram villages, have caused panic among the locals. In Pedda Anantapuram village, a tiger killed three cows. The tiger's presence was captured on trap cameras.
Forest officials are currently conducting awareness campaigns to educate the residents on how to handle encounters with wild animals.
A farmer Mallanna of Pedda Anantapuram village said a tiger killed three cows recently and attacked goats and dogs. Another villager said they observed the presence of a tiger on the outskirts of their village in recent times.
Forest range officer in Bairluty, Rama Koti, said a team of 10 field staff has been monitoring the situation and implementing various steps for safely trapping the tiger and relocating it to the deep forest areas. Patrols and camps are being conducted in adjacent tribal villages.
In the Yemmiganur area in Kurnool too, villages are also dealing with challenges as leopards have been attacking pet animals.