The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) recently launched a website and released a report titled "A Policy Framework for Connectivity Conservation and Smart Green Linear Infrastructure in the Central Indian and Eastern Ghats Tiger Landscape." According to Milind Pariwakam, a wildlife biologist at WCT, while several reports, studies, and guidelines aim to address the issue of mitigating the negative impacts of such linear infrastructure on natural landscapes and conserving the connectivity that they offer to small populations of endangered species of wildlife, there is a lack of timely information on whether a particular project is likely to affect corridor/s.
Pariwakam further states that this report primarily seeks to address this specific lacuna by leveraging on earlier work by other entities and presents a way forward for better planning of linear infrastructure without compromising on the connectivity needs of wildlife. The same framework with improvements can be adopted by the statutory agencies for the other three important tiger landscapes in India, namely, the Western Ghats, Shivalik-Gangetic Landscape and the North East Indian Landscape by incorporating information on the corridors and proposed projects in the respective landscapes. Work is in progress on the other three reports.
MSc student, University of Delhi
Kanha Tiger Reserve, a popular tiger tourism destination, is a mixed forest characterised by
patches of sal, bamboo and beautiful vast grasslands. These different habitats support a large
population of ungulates - a diverse group of hoofed mammals. Ungulates like chital, chinkara, wild buffalo and many others form a major part of tiger diet. In fact, survival of large carnivores such as tigers depends directly on the prey base or the ungulate density. Understanding specific requirements of different ungulates is hence crucial for maintaining a healthy and diverse ungulate population and in turn high tiger numbers.
In a recent study, researchers from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Madhya Pradesh
Forest Department, Mandla, documented the effect of human use, season and habitat on
ungulate density in Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Researchers walked on 200
pre-determined paths covering 1200 sq km for estimating densities of six species of ungulates
which were barasingha, barking deer, chital, gaur, sambar and wild pig for each management
area and habitat type. Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) contains two management areas, first is
the core area which contains no human settlement and second is the buffer zone which is a
multiple use area with human settlements and is often comparatively more disturbed. The
study considered 4 different habitat types in KTR which were grassland, pure sal forest,
miscellaneous forest and bamboo mixed forest.
The study finds that the ungulate biomass in the core area is much higher, almost 4.8 times, in the core area compared to the buffer zone. Among all ungulates studied, chital was the most abundant with higher density in the core area compared to the buffer zone. A consistent result was obtained for both gaur and sambar. Barking deer and wild pig densities showed no marked difference in the two management areas. Nilgai was the only ungulate with higher densities in the buffer zone compared to the core area whereas barasingha and chousingha had no records from the buffer zone in this study. Absence of these two rare and endangered species from the buffer zone which has moderate to heavy human disturbance and their restricted presence in the core area highlights the need to maintain intact core areas which provide critical habitats for threatened species. To put simply, ungulates don’t like humans except maybe nilgai.
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