Watch: MM Hills may become state's sixth tiger reserve

Karnataka is all set to get its sixth tiger reserve, with the State Wildlife Board deciding to propose to the Centre to notify Malai Mahadeshwara Hills Wildlife Sanctuary (MM Hills) distinguished tag. PTI file photo
Highlights: 
Karnataka to get sixth tiger reserve
If NTCA gives nod, M M Hills will the 51st Tiger Reserve in the country
The other 5 tiger reserves are: Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve, BRT Tiger Reserve
MM Wildlife Sanctuary comprising three state forests -- Yadiyarahalli, Hanur and Malai Mahadeshwara is in an area 906.187 sq km
Declaring MM Hills as a Tiger Reserve will give a push to ecotourism activities in Hogenakkal and Barachukki falls

Karnataka is all set to get its sixth tiger reserve, with the State Wildlife Board deciding to propose to the Centre to notify Malai Mahadeshwara Hills Wildlife Sanctuary (MM Hills) distinguished tag.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who is the chairman of the Board, has however decided to defer the notification of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CSW) as a tiger reserve for the time being. 

The government had earlier proposed to declare the CWS jointly with MM Hills. If the proposal had come through, the tiger reserve would have gone by the name -- Cauvery-Malai Mahadeshwara Tiger Reserve (CMTR).

C Jayaram, PCCF (Wildlife), told DH that the idea was to take up the declaration process in a “phased manner”. “The Chairman felt that it was better to first declare and establish MM Hills as a tiger reserve. He said that the declaration process can be taken up in a phased manner. Hence we are extending the benefit to MM Hills first,” he added.

Jayaram said that once the gazette notification comes through, the proposal will be sent to the Centre (National Tiger Conservation Authority).

“The NTCA will be happy to declare it, because it had only mooted the idea in 2014,” he added. 

Jayaram said that MM Hills, with 906 sq km, was home to around 13 tigers, while CWS with its 10 forests is an area of 1,027.53 sq km had around 17 tigers. Photographs of tigers and tiger cubs through camera traps have also depicted healthy breeding of the large cats, he added.

“The prerequisite now will be the protection of the predator and its prey alongside habitat improvement. The department will focus on increasing the number of anti-poaching camps (APCs), fire protection camps and towers and providing a good source of water for these animals,” he said.

The adjoining tiger habitats -- Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) in Karnataka and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) in Tamil Nadu has been acting as an effective source sink landscape, increasing the density of tigers and their prey in MM Hills, which itself has resident tigers.

In addition to connecting BRT, through the Edyaralli-Doddasampige elephant corridor, MM Hills also connects the Bannerghatta National Park -- forming a contiguous landscape of 3,000 sq km of wildlife habitat. This is one of the largest landscapes in the country for the conservation of tigers, elephants and other large and wide-ranging mammalian species. 

Tiger population in BRT Tiger Reserve has reached critical threshold limits, dispersing young tigers to other areas to MM Hills and CWS. “Future protection activities will ensure that the tiger population in these areas also reach high levels. Also, improved prey base will ensure that tigers in these areas will reach their ecological carrying capacities. There are convincing estimates of abundance of a population of ungulates and herbivores to shore up long term persistence of tiger in these protected areas,” added Jayaram

The proposed Tiger Reserve forest area is also rich in flora and fauna. 

Both CSW and MM Hills sanctuaries are spread over a total area of 1,93,372.25 ha in Chamarajanagar, Mandya, and Ramanagar districts. These sanctuaries are home to mammals like tigers, leopards, wild dogs, hyenas, sloth bears, elephants, honey badgers, guars, sambars, chitals, 

The government has also proposed that 4,659 ha of Section 4 forest areas and 3,249.20 ha of other government lands that are in the administrative control of Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Division, can be considered as part of tiger reserve buffer.

Villages

There are 49 enclosure villages within the two sanctuaries, while 94 villages lie within two kilometres from the boundaries of the sanctuaries. An estimated population of 60,000 people reside within one kilometre from the periphery of the two sanctuaries. 

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Watch: MM Hills may become state's sixth tiger reserve

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