Hassan: The state is all set to get its fourth sloth bear sanctuary at Hirekallugudda in Arasikere taluk of Hassan with the state Wildlife Board approving of it in principle. The sanctuary is likely to cover 10,000 hectares of forests that are home to around 60 sloth bears besides a number of other wildlife.
Karnataka already has sloth bear sanctuaries in Ballari district, Thimmalapura and Tumakuru. The proposal for the fourth was made by Hassan forest officials about five months ago and the state Wildlife Board has given its in-principle approval for it.
Gram panchayat members and MLA, Shivalinge Gowda supported the forest officials in declaring the area a wildlife sanctuary as besides the 60 sloth bears, the Hirekallugudda forests are home to a good number of leopards, black bucks and valuable medicinal plants. “It’s a continuous forest tract supporting a large number of leopards besides the sloth bears. The forests are dry deciduous and there is also scrub and grass in the area,” said a forest officer. Speaking to the Deccan Chronicle, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Sivaram Babu, explained that with this stretch of forest getting sanctuary status it would be possible now to carry out habitat improvement programmes, dig more water holes, de-silt tanks, set up anti-poaching camps, and implement a host of other conservation measures to help the wildlife in the area.
"Sanctuary status will also help us take steps to stop the bears from straying out of the forests in search of food and water," he added.
The forest department will in addition to be able to mark the area around the sanctuary eco-sensitive and protect the bears from the stone quarries that operate close to the Hirekallugudda forests and are a major threat to them in the region, according to sources....