Forest dept seeks to expand Bhadra, Pushpagiri sanctuaries

Forest dept seeks to expand Bhadra, Pushpagiri sanctuaries

Aims to create continuous wildlife corridor in Western Ghats

Forest dept seeks to expand Bhadra, Pushpagiri sanctuaries

 The Forest department is all set to extend the jurisdiction of Bhadra and Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuaries by expanding their area, in order to create a continuous wildlife corridor in the Western Ghats in Karnataka. 

It has written to the Karnataka State Wildlife Board, seeking change in the land status of 550 square kilometres, next to these wildlife sanctuaries. 

The proposals are part of the department’s plans to interlink 22 wildlife sanctuaries across the whole of Western Ghats and prepare a continuous wildlife corridor. There are 27 wildlife reserves and five national parks. 

“We just want a change in the status of the forest land. The area which is going to be added to the wildlife sanctuaries is already protected forest land. With the change in status, it will be a continuous wildlife corridor. We intend to create a continuous gene pool of the Western Ghats,” Vinay Luthra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (WL), said. 

Work on creating the continuous wildlife region started seven years ago when the department began interlinking wildlife sanctuaries. Till date, the department has linked Bannerghatta with Cauvery, Cauvery with MM Hills, MM Hills with BRT Hills, BRT Hills with Bandipur, Bandipur with Nagarhole and Nagarhole with Bhadra wildlife reserves.

 The latest proposal of adding land to the Bhadra and Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuaries is to interlink Bhadra with Talacauvery and Talacauvery with Pushpagiri. The department has proposed to add 200 sq km of land to the Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuary and 350 sq km to the Bhadra wildlife sanctuary. 

The proposal on reorganising the two wildlife reserves is likely to be placed before the State Wildlife Board, which is headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, in the coming days. If the proposal is approved, the board will form a sub-committee which will carry out a detailed field study on which land to be added and which dropped. 

Luthra sought to allay the apprehensions that the addition of reserved forest land to wildlife sanctuaries will impact people living in those areas. “We are not going to change the rights of the people living in these reserved forest lands. Everything remains the same, except the demarcation of the wildlife sanctuaries,” he said. 

Apart from the Bhadra and Pushpagiri wildlife sanctuaries, it is said there are certain gaps in Uttara Kannada district to extend the continuous wildlife region from Bannerghatta (near Bangalore) to the border with Goa.