ITBP camp in Terai forests could destroy wildlife corridor'


Blaming the Uttarakhand government for the "insensitive" step, the experts said it would seriously affect the movement of wild animals in the narrow patch of forest across the Gola river near Lalkuan in Nainital, connecting link between the Terai Central and Terai East Forest Divisions.

"Despite being aware about its ecological importance, the government has given nod to the ITBP to set up the camp in the 80 acres of the forest area which is part of the corridor," Dipakar Ghose, a wildlife expert from World Wildlife Fund said.
He said for years the link had been used by elephants and tigers for free movement from one region to another, ensuring not only exchange of genetic material but also their existence.

In fact, the IOCL and railways have already constructed depot and dumping yard respectively, which is causing hurdle to the animal movement in the region.
With the destruction of this vital corridor, the entire Terai Arc landscape stretching from Yamuna river near Saharanpur, in the west, to Bagmati river near Chitwan National Park in Nepal, in the east, has been divided into two halves, Belinda Wright, a wildlife expert from Wildlife Protection Society India (WPSI) said.

Calling it a severe setback in maintaining integrity of habitat of free-ranging tigers and elephants in Uttarakhand, Wright said the corridor was identified by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India in 2003.
In fact, this corridor had featured prominently in a book titled 'Right of Passage' published by Wildlife Trust of India in 2005 which was endorsed by the then chief wildlife warden of Uttarakhand and Project Elephant.

At least 1,000 elephants and 150 tigers daily move through the corridor from Corbett national park to the east.
Concerned by the massive damages to this critical link, experts from the Corbett Foundation, WPSI, WTI and WWF-India have decided to approach the Central government to intervene.

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