- In an effort towards landscape-level wildlife conservation, a recent study has identified and mapped various barriers along the tiger corridors of Central India including 16 Protected Areas.
- Most efforts at wildlife conservation are mostly focused on Protected Areas.
- However, given the small sizes of protected areas and human interference, this approach could seriously limit the conservation of species like Tiger.
- This is because to maintain a viable population and the diversity of its gene pool, Tigers require large area, low densities and long dispersal distances.
- Thus, landscape-level conservation approach like wildlife corridors is increasingly being recognized in wildlife conservation.
- The first step towards landscape-level conservation is identifying the barriers along these corridors and this study is an effort in this direction.
Highlights of the Study
Area of Study
- The area under study included tiger corridors of Central India which is a global-priority landscape for tiger conservation and is home to about 31% of India’s tiger population.
- It consists of tropical dry deciduous and tropical moist deciduous forests.
- The study landscape of 384,508 km2is spread mainly across three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh and contains 16 Pas.
- The areas of protected areas range from 87 km2to 3,188 km2.
- Further the region has following features:
- Agriculture, cattle rearing, and collection of forest products are important sources of livelihood
- The region is also rich in coal and mineral deposits
- Infrastructure projects such as transportation networks, mines, reservoirs and hydropower
- Thus it is difficult to have a contiguous landscape for free movement of tiger as the above-mentioned features pass through the tiger conservation landscape in central India.
- The study identified and mapped 567 barriers within 30 linkages in Central Indian Tiger corridor landscape.
- Out of 567 barriers,
- 265 barriers intersect with infrastructure (694 km of roads, 150 km of railway, 48 reservoirs, 10 mines)
- Surface mines, thermal power plants and coal mines are other barriers.
- 302 barriers are due to land-use or gaps in forest cover.
- Land-use pattern of the barriers include agriculture, forest, degraded cover, open-water, barren land, and settlements.
- Further corridors between Kanha-Pench, Satpura-Melghat, Kanha-Nagzira, Nagzira-Pench, and Pench-Umred-Tadoba have high quality and potential for tiger connectivity and should be maintained.
Significance of the study
- Tigers are a conservation-dependent species that currently occur only in 7% of their historic range.
- In tropical areas tigers are closely associated with tropical moist broadleaf forests and tropical dry forests in South-Asia.
- Tiger conservation landscapes consist of small and isolated PAs embedded in a mosaic of natural and anthropogenic land-use activities.
- 57% of the world’s tiger population is found in India, of which about 35% live outside PAs.
- Several development projects are proposed within potential tiger corridors.
- Further lack of a comprehensive national land use policy risks unplanned, unmitigated, and permanent diversion of forestland.
- Thus landscape-level conservation strategy including connectivity between protected areas in the tiger corridor is essential to conserve viable tiger population.
- India has upgraded PAs to Tiger Reserves designated specifically for tiger conservation.
- Between 2009 and 2016, eighteen PAs were upgraded to Tiger Reserves.
- Strategies to promote connectivity include
- Focusing on conserving areas like protected areas that facilitate movement
- Focusing on restoring connectivity across areas that impede movement by removing barriers or building wildlife-friendly crossings.
- Connectivity between PAs could be accomplished by
- Protection of corridors
- Restoration of degraded habitats
- Construction of mitigation structures
- Purchasing land along corridors