Chennai: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the supreme authority for tigers in India, is upset with the Tamil Nadu forest department for not protecting tiger habitats and lagging behind in scientific aspects related to big cat conservation.
The recent plans to introduce tourist routes in the Sathymangalam tiger reserve, shifting of the project tiger office from Coimbatore to Chennai and proposals to clear trees to widen roads in Manjanur to easily connect Ooty have raised eyebrows of officials associated with the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF).
Confidential sources with the NTCA admitted that they have received information of these projects in TN, which will adversely affect the quality of forests, which in turn would bring biotic pressure on the TN tiger population. The Megamalai tiger reserve proposal from the state is also pending with the MoEF, but there is no periodic follow up from the state to ensure that Tamil Nadu gets its fifth tiger reserve. Despite Tamil Nadu enjoying a good tiger population, the state lacks in DNA profiling of its big cats whereas other states have strengthened their wildlife database, official sources said.
The shifting of the project tiger office from Coimbatore to Chennai is a shock to the NTCA as the Coimbatore field office is the epicentre of TN wildlife resources connecting six tiger reserves in the crucial Western Ghat region, sources said.
According to TN wildlife sources there were cases of NTCA pulling up the state authority for not utilizing funds given to the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve.
“Despite Tamil Nadu having four tiger reserves there are no field biologists for its tiger reserves and the state also failed to develop scientists in wildlife management,” said wildlife enthusiast Karthik Kamalakanan, who frequents tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu.