NH in tiger corridor to hit migration

Indifferent forest officials stir row over four-laning of highway.

Hyderabad: A crucial forest corridor area for tigers, migrating into Telangana state from Maharashtra, appears all set to be disturbed with the State Board for Wildlife on Saturday approving a proposal for conversion into a four-lane of the National Highway 363 Mancherial in Telangana to Chandrapur in Maharashtra.

Though the proposal was approved, some of the board members complained that forest department officials did not pay heed to their concerns and that their views were overruled in a very nonchalant manner.

The tiger corridor area comprises patches of forest land and forms part of a vital link for tigers migrating from the Tadoba-Andhari tigerscape in Maharashtra into the Kawal tiger reserve (KTR), which is spread over Adilabad, Nirmal, Mancherial and Kumaram Bheem-Asifabad districts.

The corridor has played a crucial role in tigers returning to the Kewal reserve in the past few years. One of the most successful breeding female tigers in the former Adilabad district, Phalguna, which has so far given birth to eight cubs in two litters, has carved out its territory in the Kadamba forest range in the Kumaram Bheem-Asifabad district. And the tiger comes from Maharashtra.

There are about six tigers in the Kawal tiger reserve now.

The four-lane conversion will spell doom not just for tigers but for other wildlife as well, one of the board members said.

“It was disappointing to see how the department officials, who are custodians of the forests, were really keen to push this and other projects through,” the member said.

There was no discussion of mitigation measures other than officials saying signage will be posted limiting vehicle speed to less than 30kmph, night traffic would not be permitted with some references to construction of underpasses for animals to safely cross the road.

Incidentally, among the wildlife that use the tiger corridor to move from one place to another are gaur (Indian Bison), various species of deer including the Nilgai, the largest antelope in the world, and wild boars.

The meeting was chaired by the Board’s vice-chairman and forest minister, A. Indrakaran Reddy. This was the board’s first meeting in two years after it was reconstituted recently. Incidentally, it is learnt that the officials informed the meeting that the national highway, which is to be widened, has no record of road kills.

“They just don’t have any data including the typical points where animals and tigers cross the road while moving between forest patches,” one member said.

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