Goa to declare two of its wildlife sanctuaries as CWHs

The State Forest Department will soon initiate process to declare Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary as the CWHs under Tribal Welfare Act. "The CWHs will be declared under Tribal Welfare Act, 2006, which will give adequate protection to the forest dwellers," Deputy Conservator of Forest, Debendra Dalai, told reporters.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, spread across 86.25 square kilometers area, is located in Canacona taluk bordering with Karnataka. Similarly, Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary covers 240 square kilometers area in Sanguem taluk and is the biggest of all the sanctuaries. Both these wildlife hotspots were notified as wildlife sanctuaries as back as 1969, within a decade of Goa's liberation from Portuguese rule.

Forest Department has already initiated process to declare two of the smaller sanctuaries - Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Chorao and Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary - as CWH. While there was resistance for the Forest Department at Chorao, the process at Bondla went on hassle-free, Dalai said.

"All the panchayats around Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary have agreed to give their consent for CWH status," Dalai said. The officials have decided to initiate awareness campaign to drum up support for Chorao Bird Sanctuary's declaration as CWH.

The officials said that there are 34 families residing in Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary while two villages are awaiting rehabilitation at Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. Dalai said that the forest dwellers residing in these areas since last three generations, spreading over 75 years, will be given adequate protection and their rights would be recognized by the State Social Welfare Ministry.

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