Wildlife corridors form a safe passage for wildlife crossings and are crucial to their conservation.
Wildlife spaces in India are increasingly isolated, surrounded by a matrix of human habitation, linear infrastructure, and agricultural farmlands. In these situations, it becomes imperative to secure wildlife movement through protection of wildlife corridors. In simple terms, wildlife corridors can be any stretch of natural or manmade habitat connecting two larger wild habitats that allow for the safe movement of wildlife and maintain continuity between the otherwise fragmented habitats. They aid in the movement of wildlife both for migration, and dispersal to new areas.
Currently, our team is working closely with the Karnataka Forest Department and the government on a proposal to designate 44 identified areas that we identified after a lot of research as wildlife corridors.
Edyaralli-Doddasampige Corridor Conservation Project -
Edyaralli-Doddasampige is an important wildlife corridor connecting the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve and Malai Mahadeshwara (MM Hills) Wildlife Sanctuary within Chamarajanagar district in Southern Karnataka. This corridor is a narrow stretch of about 1.6 km and has a State Highway (Kollegal-Hasanur road) passing through it, making it challenging for the wildlife to cross the man-made barrier. Vehicular traffic further reduces animal crossing and leads to accidents and roadkill. The project began intending to determine if the existing corridor was functional for wildlife movement; assessing the impact of traffic density on wildlife movement to determine suitable mitigation measures and implement them. Finally, an impact analysis of the interventions was made.
The corridor study and its findings -
Using infrared camera traps set on animal trails at regular intervals on either side of the highway, passing through the corridor segment, and agricultural fields that were adjacent to the corridor segment for a month, we were able to show high animal usage along the corridor when compared to farmlands.
As part of the outreach, students, teachers, and local youth join hands with local community members, forest department staff, and project personnel to spread awareness about the corridors and animal crossing.
The Chikyelchetti-Kaniyanpura Corridor -
In the past, we surveyed and identified nearly 6,000 acres of scrub and deciduous forests around the Kaniyanpura, Lokkere, Yelchetti, Chikyelchetti, Kebbepura and other villages on the borders of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. These forests that were under the ownership of the Revenue Department were acting as an important corridor between Bandipur and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve for elephants, tigers and other large mammals. Recognising its ecological importance, we worked with the government to notify this area as reserved forests that brought it under the ownership of the Forest Department which would ensure better protection for these forests and the wildlife in them. Now this area is notified as part of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve by the government. Recently a male tiger cub born in this area has been documented by us in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. This young tiger has possibly traversed over 200 kilometres to reach Cauvery from Bandipur. We are delighted about this tiger dispersal as helping secure this patch of forests is showing positive results.