By R. Krishnamoorthy
Spread over a vast expanse of over 1,400km, Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary, a significant wildlife corridor of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve between Eastern and Western Ghats, has transformed into fourth Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, today, in addition to the Anamalai, Mudumalai, and Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserves.
A wildlife sanctuary since November 3, 2008, the Sathyamangalam forest division was expanded to 1.41 lakh hectares in 2011 from the then existing 52,434 hectares, making it one of the largest reserves in the world.
The largest chunks of additional area were from Guthiyalathur (48,792 hectares) and Talamalai reserve forests (31,987 hectares).
In the new Tiger Reserve considered significant for its range of flora and fauna, the Sathyamangalam forest division has been split into two, with a new division headquartered at Hasanur.
The Sathy Forest Division would now has jurisdiction over 88,131.56 hectares and Hassanur Division 57,399.36 hectares, District Forest Officer, Sathyamangalam, K. Rajkumar told The Hindu .
The habitat with varied forest type is considered unique for supporting a variety of wildlife including elephants, striped hyenas, vultures, gaurs, leopards, and deers, besides tigers.
At last count, 28 tigers were found in camera trapping study conducted in December 2011 by World Wildlife Fund. The pug marks were confirmed by the Centre for Molecular Biology Hyderabad. The habitat with 90,000 hectares of core zone is the largest home for over 1,200 elephants.
Nests of vultures were sighted in Moyar valley in 2010, sources said.
The existing Namakkal forest division has been attached to Salem Circle.