Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Long live the Tiger!

Monday September 3 2007 09:44 IST
S Guru Srikanth

TIRUPATI: How to save endangered species? Save the top most on the biological pyramid and to a large extent endangered species will be saved as well the disappearing forests, is the solution given by the honchos of the Forest Department.

Conservation of ‘flagship’ species like tiger, Asiatic lion gets the immediate attention of people and politicians and it is politicians who have clout with policy makers to get the things done, says K Chandrasekara Pillai, Curator of Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park here, who recently returned from Jersey (UK) after attending a special training programme on ‘Endangered Species Recovery’ at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Speaking to this website's newspaper he explained that to a large extent, this policy had paid rich dividends.

“Project Tiger is a prime example of the success of the policy. Tiger is on the top of the biological pyramid and for it to survive, a large base of herbivore animals is necessary and for the existence of herbivores, ample vegetation is required. So when we are conserving the top of the food chain, we are in reality conserving the entire food chain,” he explained.

According to him, the Project Tiger was taken up in early 70s and at that time the tiger population in the country was 1,827 and in Andhra Pradesh it was a mere 35. Thanks to the Project Tiger, in which Srisailam Nagarajuna Sagar area was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1982, by the end of 2002, the tiger population in the State went up to 192, out of the total 3,642 tigers in the country.

“The main achievements of the Project Tiger was excellent recovery of natural habitats and consequent increase in tiger population and indirect conservation of entire eco-system. Similarly, Project Elephant in which Koundanya forest area of Chittoor district was a part and Project Crocodile have also become a huge success. Still there is a lot that needs to be done for conserving endangered species, which may not be affected by conserving the top of the food chain,” he says.

According to him, along with Tiger, Asiatic lion, wild buffalo, swamp deers, barking deers, mouse deers, primitive primates like loris, torstus, lion tailed macaque, pygmy hog of Assam, host of amphibians of evergreen forests of western ghats have found place in ‘International Red Data Book’, which has the information pertaining to critically endangered species in the world.

In Tirumala forests, we have four endemic animal species – slender loris, golden gecko, giant squirrel and flying squirrel – which are found nowhere else.

“To conserve those species, we have not created any special projects, but declared the entire region as SV National Park, thus bringing them under a security net,” Pillai said and added that any wildlife can survive only when people are made aware of their value in the large scheme of the nature.


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