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WILDLIFE CORRIDORS

10th May, 2024 Geography

WILDLIFE CORRIDORS

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Picture Courtesy: https://india.mongabay.com/2024/04/explainer-what-are-wildlife-corridors/

Context: The planned translocation of tigers from Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) to Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR) in Maharashtra highlights the importance of wildlife corridors, specifically the Sahyadri-Konkan corridor, in tiger conservation efforts.

Wildlife Corridors

  • Wildlife corridors are pathways that connect fragmented wildlife populations, enabling gene flow, dispersal, and movement across landscapes interrupted by human settlements and infrastructure. For tiger conservation, these corridors play a critical role in maintaining genetic diversity, guarding against local extinctions, and facilitating the movement of tigers between different habitats.

Sahyadri Tiger Reserve

‚óŹThe Sahyadri Tiger Reserve situated in the Sahyadri Ranges of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra.

‚óŹIt is located within the Sahyadri Ranges, which serve as the boundary between Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Goa.

‚óŹThe reserve spans over two protected areas: Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWLS) and Chandoli National Park (CNP).

‚óŹThe reserve comprises woodlands, grasslands, and plateaus (locally known as "Sadaa"), which are lateritic in nature.

‚óŹThe area supports a variety of vegetation including fodder species like karvi, bamboo, kumbal, and fruit-bearing species like Zizyphus rugosa, Ficus racemosa, Sideroxylon tomentasa, etc.

‚óŹFlora Types:

‚óčWestern (Montane) Subtropical Hill Forests

‚óčWest Coast Semi-evergreen Forests

‚óčSouthern Moist Mixed Deciduous Forests

‚óŹThe reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including:

‚óčTop carnivores like Tiger, Wild Dog, and Leopard.

‚óčHerbivores like Gaur, Sambar, Four Horned Antelope, Mouse Deer, and Giant Squirrel.

‚óčVarious bird species including Hornbills and Indian River Tern.

‚óčReptiles like Vultures, Crocodiles, and snakes.

‚óčEndangered species like the Blue finned Mahseer fish and butterflies.

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

‚óŹThe Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, located in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.

‚óŹThe reserve includes both Tadoba National Park and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary.

‚óŹ"Tadoba" is derived from the name of the local god worshipped by tribes in the region, while "Andhari" refers to the Andhari River flowing through the forest.

‚óŹThe reserve encompasses diverse landscapes including forested hills, meadows, valleys, and wetlands like Tadoba Lake and Kolsa Lake.

‚óŹPredominantly southern tropical dry deciduous forest.

‚óŹTeak is predominant, along with crocodile bark, bija, dhauda, hald, salai, semal, tendu, beheda, hirda, and others.

‚óŹBengal tigers are the main attraction, with around 88 individual tigers recorded within the reserve using SECR methodology. Indian leopards, sloth bears, gaur, nilgai, dhole, small Indian civet, jungle cats, sambar, chital, and more.

‚óŹMarsh crocodiles, Indian python, Indian monitor, terrapins, Indian star tortoise, Indian cobra, Russel's vipers, and others.

‚óŹBird species recorded, including raptors like grey-headed fish eagle, crested serpent eagle, changeable hawk-eagle, and various other species like Indian peafowl, orange-headed thrush, Indian pitta, and more.

Importance of Corridors for Tiger Conservation

Gene Flow and Genetic Diversity

  • Corridors like the Sahyadri-Konkan corridor allow tigers to move between source populations, preventing inbreeding and promoting genetic diversity within tiger populations. This is crucial for the long-term health and adaptability of tiger populations.

Facilitating Tiger Movements

  • Tigers have large home ranges and require expansive territories for hunting, mating, and establishing new territories. Corridors provide the necessary connectivity for tigers to roam across landscapes, exploring new territories and finding suitable mates.

Guarding Against Fragmentation

  • Human activities such as agriculture, roads, and urban development fragment tiger habitats. Corridors help mitigate this fragmentation by providing safe passages for tigers to navigate through human-dominated landscapes.

Mitigating Human-Wildlife Conflict

  • Well-maintained corridors reduce the likelihood of human-wildlife conflict by allowing tigers to move freely between habitats without coming into direct contact with human settlements. This minimises incidents of conflict and promotes coexistence.

Sahyadri-Konkan Corridor and Tiger Conservation

  • Connectivity in Northern Western Ghats: The Sahyadri-Konkan corridor connects tiger populations across Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka, facilitating the movement of tigers from Kali Tiger Reserve (Karnataka) to Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra).
  • Fragmentation Challenges: Human settlements and development activities pose significant threats to the Sahyadri-Konkan corridor, fragmenting tiger habitats and hindering tiger movement. Addressing these challenges is crucial for maintaining corridor functionality.
  • Translocation and Corridor Strengthening: The success of tiger translocation projects, like the one planned for STR, relies on the effectiveness of wildlife corridors. Strengthening the Sahyadri-Konkan corridor is essential to ensure the dispersal and establishment of translocated tigers within STR.

Collaboration and Conservation Strategies

  • Effective corridor management requires collaboration between Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka to address corridor challenges and implement conservation strategies that prioritise wildlife connectivity.
  • Engaging local communities in corridor conservation efforts is vital for mitigating human-wildlife conflict and fostering support for tiger conservation initiatives.

Conclusion

  • Wildlife corridors like the Sahyadri-Konkan corridor play a key role in tiger conservation by maintaining connectivity between fragmented habitats, facilitating tiger movements, and safeguarding genetic diversity. Strengthening these corridors through collaborative conservation efforts is essential for the success of tiger conservation projects, including translocation initiatives aimed at enhancing tiger populations in protected areas like Sahyadri Tiger Reserve.

Source:

Indian Express

Sahyadri Tiger Reserve

Wikipedia

PRACTICE QUESTION

Q. Evaluate the role of wildlife corridors in facilitating gene flow and maintaining genetic diversity among spatially separated populations of various species. Discuss the potential consequences of reduced genetic diversity on long-term population viability and adaptability to environmental changes.