To ensure conservation of the lion-tailed macaque, which is endemic to the Western Ghats, the State government has passed an order to extend the boundaries of Sharavathi Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, the key habitat ofthis endangered animal.
After the extension of its area, the sanctuary has been renamed as Sharavathi Valley LTM (lion-tailed macaque) Sanctuary. Sharavathi wildlife sanctuary, that came into existence in 1978, is spread over an area of 43,123 hectares. According to the order passed by the government, Aghanashini LTM conservation reserve in Uttara Kannada district, spread over 29,893 hectares, and around 20,000 hectares of reserve forest in Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada districts have been brought under the purview of Sharavathi sanctuary. With this, Sharavathi Valley LTM Sanctuary will have a total area of 93,016 hectares.
At the 11th meeting of the State Board for Wildlife, held on January 9 and chaired by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, it was decided that the Sharavathi sanctuary would be expanded. The official order on this was passed on June 7.
Home to many species
The region is also known for Myristica swamps, unique freshwater swamp forests (called ‘ Jaddu ’ in Kannada) comprising perennial streams, and a flora network home to many species of reptiles, birds and amphibians. The forests in Sharavathi and Aghanashini river valley are also abodes of the great Indian hornbill. The landscape here is covered with tropical evergreen forest interspersed with grasslands. The canopy contiguity and availability of a large variety of seasonal fruit-bearing trees have made it a cherished abode for arboreal fauna and avifauna.
Welcoming the decision to extend the sanctuary, Akhilesh Chipli, a Sagar-based environmentalist, told The Hindu that the reserve forests adjoining Sharavathi sanctuary are also habitats to rare varieties of flora and fauna and act as corridors for wildlife movements. Bringing the entire landscape under the purview of the Sharavathi LTM Sanctuary will boost conservation efforts, he said.
Referring to the large-scale encroachment of unprotected forests in Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada districts for cultivation and the diversion of forestland for non-forest purposes, including power generation and road widening, he said the expansion of the limits of the sanctuary would ensure minimal human intervention in these forests.
Locals to be unaffected
The rights, including ownership, utilisation and possession, enjoyed by locals on the non-forest land here will remain unaffected by the new order. The notification states that revenue villages, revenue lands and village commons, including gomalas, that are not part of the reserve would not be brought under the purview of the sanctuary. Even the encroached area ordered for regularisation by the government in 1997 and falling within the limits of the notified area is excluded from the purview of the sanctuary. The boundaries of Sharavathi Valley LTM Sanctuary have been notified in the order.