Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary
|Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve
An Indian elephant at the sanctuary
|Established||3 November 2008|
|• Total||1,411.6 km2 (545.0 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,200 m (3,900 ft)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Governing body||Tamil Nadu Forest Department|
|Avg. summer temperature||34 °C (93 °F)|
|Avg. winter temperature||28 °C (82 °F)|
Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve is a protected area and tiger reserve along the Western Ghats in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Sathyamangalam forest range is a significant wildlife corridor in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve between the Western Ghats and the rest of the Eastern Ghats and a genetic link between the four other protected areas which it adjoins, including the Billigiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Sigur Plateau, Mudumalai National Park and Bandipur National Park.
First declared in 2008 and enlarged in 2011, it covers a forest area of 1,411.6 km2 (545.0 sq mi) and is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. In 2013, it became the fourth tiger reserve as a part of Project Tiger in the state of Tamil Nadu. The sanctuary covers parts of Sathyamangalam taluk and Gobichettipalayam taluk of Erode District in the north western Tamil Nadu. Conservation of the Sathyamangalam Forest Division is administered by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department governed through Conservator of Forests, Erode, Divisional Forest Officer, Gobichettipalayam and District Forest Officer, Sathyamangalam.
In exercise of the powers conferred by the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, having considered the area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural and zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating and developing wild life and its environment, declared that the defined area shall be a sanctuary, on and from the 3 November 2008.
The sanctuary includes the following areas of Sathyamangalam Forest Division:
- Guthiyalathur Reserved Forest (Portion) 299.47 square kilometres (115.626 sq mi),
- Guthiyalathur Extension Reserved Forest 1.6231 square kilometres (0.627 sq mi),
- Thalamalai Reserved Forest (Portion) 210.85 square kilometres (81.410 sq mi),
- Thalamalai Extension Reserved Forest 12.4063 square kilometres (4.790 sq mi),
The total area was 524.3494 square kilometres (202.452 sq mi). The boundaries of the sanctuary were:
- North: Talavady(Thalavadi) Range of Thalamalai Reserved Forest and Hasanur and T.N.Palayam (Gobichettipalayam Taluk) Ranges of Guthiyalathur Reserved Forests. Contiguous with Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary
- East: Bargur reserved forest Anthiyur taluk of Erode Forest Division.
- South: Moyar River and Bhavani River. Contiguous with Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary and Sigur Plateau south of the Moyar River.
- West: Karnataka State Boundary. Contiguous with Bandipur National Park.
In September 2011, the Forest Department increased the sanctuary area 169% by adding 887.26 km2 (342.57 sq mi) in seven reserve forests of Sathyamangalam Forest Division to the existing wildlife sanctuary spread over 524.34 km2 (202.45 sq mi). The largest chunks of additional area are 487.92 km2 (188.39 sq mi) from Guthiyalathur and 319.87 km2 (123.50 sq mi) from Talamalai reserve forests, thus increasing the total sanctuary area to 1,411.6 km2 (545.0 sq mi).
Of the total area, the core zone comprises 917.27 km2 (354.16 sq mi) (65%). Tourism and minimal construction will only be allowed in the buffer zone, while only forest officials will be permitted entry in the core zone.
Early on 15 July 2010, the Indian Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, requested the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi to: "consider the possibility of proposing the Sathyamangalam Wild Life Sanctuary as a Project Tiger tiger reserve, vis-a-vis the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 as the area is contiguous with the forests of Chamrajnagar-Bandipur-Mudumalai".
On 1 April 2010 The Government of Tamil Nadu said it would soon initiate action to declare SWS as a tiger reserve because many tigers are consistently being sighted in the forest here. This tiger reserve declaration is expected to strengthen wildlife conservation efforts, as the sanctuary managers will get more financial support from the central government. The Government of India may provide support to appoint an additional anti-poaching watchers and fund the establishment of anti-poaching camps. On 6 April 2012, Chief Wildlife Warden Rakesh Vasisht said the proposal to have a tiger reserve in Sathyamangalam has been sent (to the MOEF for approval and funding).
Incidentally, in 2008, the Karnataka Forest Department had sent a proposal to also declare the contiguous Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, as a tiger reserve. The proposal to notify the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary as a critical tiger habitat was subsequently approved in 2010. On 10 March 2011, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife said that the proposal for according tiger reserve status for the Sathyamangalam Reserve Forests is under consideration. He said that studies using camera traps and scats indicated there could be 19 to 25 tigers in Sathyamangalam forests. He added that Tamil Nadu might have 100 to 110 tigers based on the camera traps and scat examination done in Tamil Nadu's three tiger reserves: Mudumalai National Park, Indira Gandhi National Park and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve A 2011 camera trap tiger density study by World Wildlife Fund ( WWF) at the SWS indicated that the sanctuary is home to at least 25 tigers. A DNA based project initiated by the state forest department collected 150 samples of pugmarks from Sathyamangalam forests and 69 of them were found positive for tigers by tests conducted at the Centre for Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. The lab findings indicate that the region is home to up to 30 tigers.In a 2010 wildlife survey, 46 tigers were sighted in the Sathyamangalam forest area.
Supported by these reports, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department prepared a detailed report to the state government supporting the tiger reserve proposal. This proposal came up for consideration before the Tamil Nadu Council of Ministers in early 2012. On 18 March 2013, a government order under the "The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006" has been circulated to the conservator of forests in Erode that the home will be the fourth tiger reserve in the state the other three being Mudumalai, Kalakkad Mundanthurai and Anamalai.
The Sathyamangalam forest is mostly tropical dry forest, part of the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests ecoregion. there are five distinct forest types: tropical evergreen (Shola), semi-evergreen, mixed-deciduous, dry deciduous and thorn forests. Evergreen forests are restricted to small patches in a few high altitude hill tops of Sathyamamgalam between 750 metres (2,460 ft) and 1,649 metres (5,410 ft). These patches are threatened on account of land use changing to hill agriculture and plantation crops, including fruit. Semi-evergreen forests are found at high altitude. Mixed and dry deciduous forests are located on middle altitude slopes and the thorn forests are usually found in the foot hills and some times, due degradation of dry deciduous forests, at the middle elevations. About 65% of the forest division is under forest cover. Significant areas of mixed Shrubland and grasslands support a large population of herbivore ungulates, the preferred prey of tigers.
The Sathyamangalam forests are especially important because they link the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats allowing gene flow between diverse populations of the two habitats. In December 2011, the Conservator of Forests, Erode Circle stated that the SWS is home to at least 28 tigers which has been confirmed by a camera trapping study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In 2011, it was reported that the Sathyamangalam forest is home to over 850 Indian elephants, making it the largest elephant habitat in the country. The 2010 survey counted 12 Bengal tigers.
The 2009 wildlife survey enumerated 10 Bengal tigers, 866 Indian elephants, 672 gaurs, and 27 leopards. The survey party observed four additional species of horned antelope including 2,348 spotted deer, 1,068 blackbuck, 304 sambar deer, 77 barking deer and four-horned antelope, 843 wild boar, 43 sloth bear and 15 striped hyenas. Herds of the famous feral buffaloes can also be spotted in places near the Moyar river. Many treepies, bulbuls, babblers, mynahs and crows were seen.
In 2010, the first ever bird survey in Sathyamangalam Forest Division was conducted in the Bhavanisagar, Sathyamangalam, Thalavadi, T.N. Palayam and Hasanur Ranges. A total of 230 species of birds were recorded in the survey. As of 2010, a small population of threatened Gyps and three other species of vultures have continued to thrive in the Moyar River valley near Mangalapatti in Sathyamangalam Forest Division. These forests have been recognised to be significant areas for the vultures in South India. 20 nests have been sighted and about 40 vultures could be in the area. Vultures were last seen here in the 1970s.
These forests are home to indigenous tribal people belonging largely to the Irula tribe (also known as the Urali) and, Soliga communities. In late 2011, Forest Department officials were studying the cattle and human population in the area. There are seven forest settlements and 12 revenue settlements inside the area. In 2012, Data collection is nearly complete and officials will soon conduct a project stakeholders meeting with the participation of residents from these settlements.
The forests were also the home of the Indian bandit, kidnapper and murderer Koose Muniswamy Veerapan, who made a living poaching ivory and sandalwood from the forests and selling them on the black market. Veerapan was killed by police in October 2004.
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