Forest tales

CONSERVATION

Forest tales

While tiger tourism is being hotly debated in conservation circles today, Jogimatti reserve forest area, once a tiger habitat, is now under the scanner.

The Jogimatti reserve forest area, which covers an area of 10,048.97 hectares and is spread across three taluks, Chitradurga, Holalkere and Hiriyur, is not only home to rich fauna such as the sloth bear and a variety of birds including the peacock, but also houses plants with medicinal value.

But owing to increasing urbanisation and installation of windmills around the area, the rich flora and fauna of the region is on the verge of extinction.

Forest Department officials in Chitradurga district have submitted a proposal urging the State government to declare the reserve forest a wildlife sanctuary, so that appropriate conservation measures are taken.


Following a detailed study of the forest area, officials of the Forest Department submitted the same to the State government in April. The proposal is pending in front of the State government for approval. If all goes well, the Jogimatti reserve forest area will soon be declared a wildlife sanctuary. This forest is also part of a drought-hit area. Factors such as frequent drought and other environmental pressures like wild fires, hunting, grazing of cattle and installation of windmills are threatening wildlife.


With hundreds of windmills installed in the forest area, the Forest Department points out, bird movement is affected. Also, the incidence of hu­m­an-animal conflict has increased.

The number of crop damage cases has also gone up. The wildlife sanctuary tag is therefore important, according to the Forest department’s proposal. Deputy Conservator of Forests, Chitradurga, S Kumaraswamy endorses this proposal. “To protect wildlife in the region, it is necessary to declare Jogimatti forest a wildlife sanctuary. Marikanive of Hiriyur should also be included in the list,” says Kumaraswamy.


The hill beckons


With its lush green cover, Jogimatti is among the most beautiful hill stations in the State. It is located at a distance of 10 km south of Chitradurga and is 1,323 metres above sea level. Jogimatti hill reserve forest area was named after a jogi (saint) who was well known for his social service. The forest area typically attracts tourists, environmentalists, wildlife lovers, researchers and trekkers.


With diverse kinds of species like the leopard, black buck, bear, rabbit, peacock, and medicinal plants, Jogimatti is a biodiversity hub. This forest was also known for its tiger population. Till 1950, it was a tiger habitat. But with encroachment of forest area, the numbers have dwindled, point out forest officials.

“If the tiger lives in the forest, it is a symbol of balance in nature. If the tiger lives in the forest, it is an indication that there are other species in the forest too. The tiger occupies the first spot in the food chain,” forest officials explain.


Jogimatti hill station is also known as the Ooty of these parts, thanks to its cool weather and mist. The road that leads one into the Jogimatti forest is a winding one, and makes for a pleasant experience for tourists.

There is a travellers’ bungalow, built by the British, on top of the hill station. This 102-year-old bungalow is a huge tourist attraction.  Near the travellers’ bungalow is a small temple built in memory of the saint who lived here. Tourists have to climb 155 steps to visit the temple. Flocks of peacocks are in the vicinity of the temple. Jogimatti forest is also known for its waterfall, Himavatkedara.


There is a natural cave here, with a shiva linga and idols of Veerabhadra and Basavanna. Jogimatti forest area has a small zoo as well and an ecotourism adventure centre. The area it is located in is called Adumalleshwar and is surrounded by Chinnamuladri Hills. The adventure centre also educates people on the importance of conservation.

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