By R. Krishna Kumar
Latest stand-off between officials and poachers testifies this
The M.M. Hills and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka abutting Tamil Nadu is rich in wildlife but is prone to poaching. The latest stand-off between the forest officials and a suspected gang of poachers on Thursday is a testimony to this.
While the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 1,027 sq km, the M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary spans 907 sq km and was declared and notified a protected area in May 2013. Following the notification, protection measures have been stepped up much to the chagrin of small-time poachers operating out of the region.
M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary was carved out of Kollegal forest division and came in for special protection in view of the high density of wildlife.
Conservationists aver that there was bound to be resistance from local villagers, a section of who poach wildlife for livelihood or are part of an intricate network of dealers in wildlife derivatives. But, sustained protection and crackdown on poaching was expected to bring down misadventures in the forests, besides improving wildlife population.
Wildlife biologist Sanjay Gubbi told The Hindu that both M.M. Hills and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuaries bordering Tamil Nadu was prone to poaching from across the border, as they are confident of dodging the long arm of law by poaching in one State and taking cover in another.
“There have been instances of the sambar, chital, four-horned antelope, elephant and other wildlife species being hunted by different gangs which escape to the neighbouring State, making detection difficult,” Mr. Gubbi said.
Evidence that poachers do operate in the area came to the fore when camera traps set up by Mr. Gubbi and his team to study wildlife in the forests, captured the images of poachers at night with country-made guns. “When our camera traps detected poachers, the staff did an excellent task of tracking them down and arresting them,” he said. It is suspected that most of the poaching happens for meat though there are cases of animals poached for specific body parts, Mr. Gubbi said.
The BRT Tiger Reserve spreads over 530 sq km and the Satyamangalam Tiger Reserve extends to nearly 1,200 sq km, and thus there is contiguous forest coverage spread over nearly 3,500 sq km which augurs well for wildlife conservation.
The pro-active measures of the Forest Department has to be appreciated, according to wildlife activists.
The entire landscape was out of bounds for the Forest Department when forest brigand Veerappan operated in the area but is now being gradually reclaimed through protection measures.