The buffer zones, created around the protected areas, acts not only as the insulator and keep away the anthropogenic pressures of local communities from the core zone or ‘critical habitat’ but also provide the habitat to the spill over tigers and other wildlife species from core zones.
The wild animals disperse from their core breeding areas to buffer areas or to further in corridor areas to establish their territory or to move to other protected areas. Therefore buffer zones play important role in long-term conservation of animals. The information on dispersal routes, status of wildlife and their habitat in buffer zone is crucial to tailor the management strategies for buffer areas. Therefore a 2-year study in buffer zone of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve was initiated by The Corbett Foundation to study the dispersal routes of tigers and other wildlife species. Click here for the full report.
The findings of the study indicated that tigers and leopards not only using the buffer zone for dispersal but also establishing their territories in buffer zone. The study recorded 29 mammalian species out of 35 listed species in Bandhavgarh. Asiatic wildcat (Felis silvestris ornata) and smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) were recorded for the first time in Bandhavgarh during this study.
We identified two major routes used by tigers for daily activity movements in the buffer zone-the first route designated as Damna-Badkhera (Manpur range) route is used by tigers to disperse from the core zone into the surrounding buffer and the second route called Damokhar-Bartarai route starts in Dhamokhar buffer zone and leads into the Bartarai beat in the buffer and merges into Khitauli Range in core.
Among wild ungulates, chital (Axis axis) had the highest density but overall, cattle had the highest density and same is reflected in the diet of tiger and leopard as cattle contributed major part of tiger and leopard. Habitat fragmentation and degradation due to the anthropogenic pressures, proliferation of invasive species and human-wildlife conflict are the major threats for the long-term conservation of wildlife in buffer zone. Programmes aiming to reduce people’s dependency on forest resources combined with habitat improvement should be initiated to maintain the functionality of buffer zone.