For conservationists, the image of a tiger captured in a camera trap in Bejjur forest of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district four days ago is no reason to celebrate. Recent incidents, coupled with poor protection of tigers ambling into the corridor areas, have only made them fear its fate. The tiger has not been identified yet but is presumed to be transient.
Between November and December, 2016, a tiger skin was seized from poachers at Bejjur, a tiger carcass was found in Kotapally of Mancherial district, while another carcass, that of a leopard, was found in Tamsi mandal of Adilabad district. The movement of the big cat was reported from the same mandal.
Added to this, a tigress with four cubs in Sirpur range in KB Asifabad district and two at Kawal Tiger Reserve falling in Adilabad, Mancherial, and Nirmal districts went off the radar, sending alarm bells among conservationists.
Forest officials and conservationists were of the opinion that it was high time authorities initiated efforts in getting an overview of the movement of the tiger between the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and the Indravati Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts of Maharashtra and the Kawal Tiger Reserve in the four districts hitherto forming undivided Adilabad in Telangana. This would give them a proper perspective while initiating protection measures, an official, who did not want to be named, said.
In the last few years, the big cats have entered Telangana from Maharashtra at Sirpur range in Kagaznagar forest division, and their movements were noticed over 150 km until Chennur forest. If given proper protection, these tigers would have crossed into the safer confines of KTR through the Luxettipet range, the official added.
The heavily fragmented tiger corridor comprises miscellaneous forests which suit the tigers to become residents. The better conserved Bejjur range is like an oasis with greater diversity in vegetation and many a water source for the big cats.
Like the Sirpur range, Bejjur too was putting in place the phase IV monitoring system which envisages setting up more camera traps. In all, 40 cameras would be set up, mostly around the spring area where the tiger was captured on camera.
Though there has been no proper survey of it, the prey base in the corridor area was considered to be low. “Better protection would only increase the population of sambar, chital, four horned antelope, and black bucks,” the source said.