Poachers have reportedly infiltrated the Nallamalla forests with the population of tigers going up in the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR).
State forest officials have stepped up combing operations in the Nallamalla forests as a red alert has been sounded by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau following a tip-off on movement of a gang of poachers from Haryana.
Thanks to conservation efforts by forest officials in the State, the number of big cats in the Nallamala tracts had gone up to 40, excluding 12 cubs.
In the midst of combing operations close to the Krishna river, Markapur Division Forest Officer B. Jayachandra Reddy said they were alerted that the gang from Pinjore town in Haryana, whose members are reportedly adept in hunting wild animals, had infiltrated the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) to hunt tigers and leopards.
The local people, including Chenchu tribals, were have also been put on alert and asked to pass on information about the movement of any Hindi-speaking outsiders within the NSTR, he said. The gang members suspected to have ventured into NSTR are Leelavati, Rakesh, Vijay, Vakeel and five or six others, the DFO said.
The population of tigers, which was 62 in the unified AP in the 2011 census, was 40 now after bifurcation, he said. The population density increased to 2.4 per 100 sq.km. now as against 1.4 earlier, he said, adding that the count includes 28 tigresses.