Tigers sighted just 80 km from Bangalore

Tigers sighted just 80 km from Bangalore

There cannot be better news for wildlife enthusiasts in the city than the recent finding that tigers are now closer to the outskirts; safely confined in the forest area that has enough game to keep them healthy and breeding.

Days of travelling to Bandipur and Nagarhole, about 200 kilometres from the city, may now be over, as cameras installed by forest authorities trap tigers at Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS), just 80 to 90 kilometres from here. The pictures also corroborate with reports of tiger sightings.

That tigers exist in the area was confirmed when a camera placed at the Cowdahalli range captured a big cat on October 12, 2013, in bright light near a waterhole.

“We had several sightings of tigers and cubs by people, but now we have confirmation in the form of pictures,” said K S Vasanth Reddy, Deputy Conservator of Forest, CWS, who was instrumental in installing the cameras at 15 locations.
“With pug marks and scats found in at least 12 beats during the census, we can easily estimate that there are about half a dozen tigers here,” he added.

The department attributes the presence of tigers to constant monitoring, protection of prey base and prevention of poaching in the last 18 months.

The sanctuary, which was earlier spread over 526.96 sq km, was expanded further by 1020 sq km last year after reorganisation.


With the increase of anti-poaching camps from 14 to 25 under Reddy’s watch, authorities also evicted 22 doddies (cattle pens) within the forest range.

“Each of these pens had a thousand cattle. They consumed fodder meant for herbivores. Their eviction had not only brought down man-animal conflicts, but also increased the herbivore population. This created a favourable condition for tigers to thrive,” Reddy explained.

“There cannot be anything sweeter than the fact that we have a good breeding tiger population here. A real success story,” Reddy said.

The CWS, which is a contiguous forest to BNP, is also connected to Male Madeshwara hills and the Satyamangala forests on one side and CWS of Tamil Nadu in the north of the river Cauvery.

The park spread across Mysore and Bangalore districts was so far known for its sizeable population of arboreal creatures like grizzle giant squirrel, aquatic creatures like otters and mahseer fish. Leopards, jackal, sloth bears are the other bigger mammals here.

A prey base analysis by Killi Valavan, a researcher with Wildlife Conservation Society, had revealed that the sanctuary has an estimated 2,500 ungulate population.

The study, a part of his masters in wildlife biology at National Centre for Biological Sciences in 2010 under the guidance of well-known wildlife biologist K Ullas Karanth, had stated that this prey density is sufficient enough to sustain a tiger population.
 
Besides stopping poaching, the two check posts set up also helped Kanakapura Police and the State Government, for whom frequent death of tourists at Sangam and Muthatthi had been a big concern.

Former forest officials say that if conservative work here is sustained, it is possible that tigers can be sighted as close as in Bannerghatta National Park (adjoining CWS).

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