TO DECLARE MHADEI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY AS A TIGER HABITAT
The Government of India, Dear Honorable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh,
We the undersigned, residents of Goa, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, admirers especially of the tiger, are writing to you so as to highlight the need to protect and conserve an intrinsic part of our Western Ghats, its forests and biodiversity. There is a dire need to protect and conserve our tiger habitats.
1. The recent episode of a tiger killing in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary region is no longer a secret. It is a known fact that tigers have been spotted regularly in this region and are resident here, recent evidence proving the presence of a tigress and its cub. Local newspapers like the Times of India, Gomantak, etc have been reporting on this issue regularly (Refer recent report on the 2nd Oct 09).
2. Tiger numbers are dwindling across the country and Goa is not far behind. The estimate of the tiger numbers in the wild in India is now pegged at 1400 individuals and this is a drastic decline from the total in 2002 i.e. 3600 in the country. Tigers have been lost to poacher’s traps, poison and bullets, to unknown and mysterious natural causes and unsuccessful management methods across the country.
3. The Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Sattari taluka of North Goa. Spread over 208 sq km, this sanctuary is contiguous with the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary all in Goa and is part of the Western Ghats.
4. The contiguous forests of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra encompassing the wildlife sanctuaries of Goa, the Anshi Tiger Reserve and reserve forests of Karnataka and the reserve forests of Dodamarg in Maharashtra have been acknowledged as Tiger Conservation Units (TCU) Mark II by WWF International.
5. This region is part of the Western Ghats landscape and is now regarded as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot as well as an area of High Endemism by Conservation International.
6. The Status of Tiger in India Report 2008 by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) specifies that the protected areas of Goa and its contiguous forests of Karnataka and Maharashtra are possibly some of the best potential tiger habitats in the Western Ghats region, even today and needs scientific attention. The report further adds that prey base restoration and conservation and full protection can and will support a healthy population of large cats and their prey. The Report clearly states that the Protected Areas of Goa can sustain tiger populations and the proper management to enhance prey base is crucial to foster breeding tigers. The recent activity and movement of tigers in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and the Bhagwan Mahavir National Park at Mollem suggests that the region is being used by large cats not only as a corridor but also for breeding.
7. The presence of tigers in this region is an indicator of the health of our forest, the tiger being at the apex of the food chain. Its conservation is linked directly to the conservation of our natural resources including water, as the catchment area of our rivers stem from the forests of the State and those across the border. The survival of the Tiger in the Wild is crucial to the sustainability of our eco-system and in turn to man’s own survival. Our Government needs to acknowledge this vital fact and adopt necessary measures to protect and conserve our national animal and its habitat.
We appeal to you to do the needful for the protection of our forests, the Tiger and its habitat. It’s a simple, peaceful and positive step for a greater common good, for our children and for the survival of mankind.
Awaiting a positive response from you,