No Parking: Kudremukh reserved for tigers2 min read
Karkala (Chikmagalur): In an effort to expand undisturbed areas for tigers, Kudremukh National Park has been approved as the 41st tiger reserve of the country. Awaiting final declaration, the park will come under the aegis of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), what was once popularly called Project Tiger. However, concerns over vulnerability of tigers within protected areas and rights of people living in the reserves have forced many to question what the declaration will truly declare. Will it declare that the tigers are now safer than they were? Will it declare that the people who have been living here since generations will now have to find new homes?
Situated among the Western Ghats in Chikmagalur district, Kudremukh is famous for its biodiversity while being one of the world’s 25 hotspots. It is home to a number of endangered animals and rare species like the wild dogs, tigers, leopards and a variety of butterflies. This critical habitat was declared a national park in the year 1987.
According to the Centre for Wildlife Studies, a non-profit based in Bangalore, KNP is home to eight tigers. The idea for a tiger reserve was initially put forth by the Kudremukh Wildlife Division of Karkala taluk. “The Kudremukh National Park is adjacent to the Bhadra Tiger Reserve and tigers were spotted by several people around this area so we wanted it to be made a tiger reserve,” said a forest guard from the division.
At the heart of this 600 square kilometre national park lies a dead township, as the Supreme Court in October 2002 ordered closure of all mining activity within the area. This abandoned infrastructure will provide residential amenities and other support to a wide network of NTCA staff that would be deployed to work here. “After being called a tiger reserve, since the protected area will be under the central government, they will hopefully provide funding for additional staff and infrastructure,” said Neren Jain, coordinator of Kudremukh Wildlife Foundation.
As per the statistics given by the forest department, approximately 1339 families live within the protected area. Despite evidences of man-animal conflict, the local communities continue to live inside the park under the protection of their rights as traditional dwellers of the forest. However, 450 families have sent applications to the state government over the past few years requesting to be able to relocate. “They have been sending in applications for the past 10-15 years but have received meagre funding from the government,” said Jain. It is believed that the funds that come with the tiger reserve label would facilitate in the rehabilitation of these families.
In order for the Kudremukh Tiger Reserve to be more than a label, NTCA has to monitor the effectiveness of its reserves and ensure that Kudremukh does not slip into the ‘impoverished red corridor area’ like Sariska and Palamau.
Sub-edited by: Garima Goel