Melghat Tiger Project

 

SITUATION

Melghat is located on longitude 21 degrees 21' N, lattitude 77 degrees 22' E. Chikhaldara and Dharni and Melghat extends over an area sq. kms. It forms the major port of Amaravati district of Maharashtra in India.

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CLIMATE

Melghat has three distinct seasons namely Monsoon, Rainy season and Winter season. The considerable altitudinal variations in Melghat gives rise to smart variations in rainfall which ranges from 1000 mm to 2050 mm.The rainfall is received in 50 to 60 rainy days during July to September. Winter iscooled and summer is extremely hot. Temperature varies from 6 degrees celsius to 43.6 degees celsius. 

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PHYSICAL FEATURES

Melghat Tiger Reserve is located on southern offshoot of the Satpura Hill Range in Central India, called Gavilgarh hill in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The high ridge running east-west which has its highest point at Vairat (1178 m. above msl.), forms the southwestern boundary of the Reserve. It is a prime habitat of the tiger. The forest is tropical dry deciduous in nature, dominated by teak Tectona grandis.  The Reserve is a catchment area for five major rivers viz. Khandu, Khapra, Sipna, Gadga and Dolar, all of which are tributaries of the river Tapti. The northeastern boundary of the Reserve is marked by the Tapti river. Melghat is the prime biodiversity repository of the state.

The sudden slope of Melghat form the part of catchment of river Purna.

The three major tributaries originating from Melghat region and draining into river Purna are Chandrabhaga, adnani and wan. Chikhaldara is located on high sudden platau at an altitude of 1100 ms. above MSL.

Nature has offered protection to Melghat in the form of a rugged topography with only a few entry points. The Makhala, Chikhaldara, Chiladari, Patulda and Gugamal are the large plateaux amidst rugged terrain. Contiguity of forests in Satpura Hill Range guarantees the long-term conservation potential of the area.

Conservation History : Melghat area was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1974. Presently, the total area of the Reserve is around 1677 sq. km. The core area of the Reserve, the Gugarnal National Park with an area of 361.28 sq. km., and buffer area of the Reserve, the Melghat Tiger Sanctuary with an area of 788.28 sq. km. (of which 21.39 sq. km. is non-forest), were together re-notified by the state government in 1994 as Melghat Sanctuary. The remaining area is managed as a 'multiple use area'. Previously, Melghat Tiger Sanctuary was created in 1985 with an area of 1597.23 sq. km.  Gugarnal National Park was carved out of this Sanctuary in 1987.

Archaeological Richness : The Gavilgarh fort on the Chikhaldara plateau and Narnala fort abetting southeastern part of Melghat Tiger Reserve add to the aesthetic value of the area. Visitors to these archaeological monuments enjoy the serene forests in the backdrop.

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MELGHAT FLOURA

The area has sudden tropical dry, deciduous forest. Teak (Tectonal grandic) is the dominant species with common associate Lendia(Lagestroemia parviflora), Moyan (Lanmea coromondolica), Ain (Terminalia tomentosa), Dhawda(Anogeissus latifolia), Haldu(Adina Cordifolia) Kalanb(Mitrigyna parviflora), and Dhaman(Grewia tiliafolia).

 Other associates are Salai (Boswellia Serrota), Dudhi (Wrightia tinctoria), Amaltus (Cassia fistula), Humba (Milliusa veletina), Bhosa(Bauhinia racemosa), Kusum (Sleichera deosa), Rivit (Casearea eliptica )etc. there are over 700 naturalise species  belonging to 400 genera and 97 families.There are 90 tree species, 66 shrub  species, 320 herb species, 56 climber species, 23 sedge speciesand 99 grass species. Bamboo forms midle story.

Medicinal plant species of ethno botanical importance.Number more than 250 species.

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MELGHAT FAUNA

Melghat is an abort of wild life which include 41 species of Mammals, 250 species of Birds, 24 species of Fish, 160 species of Reptiles and snakes and species of Lizard, amphibians etc.

Important Mamals are Tiger (Panthera tigris), Leopard (Panthera Pardus), Wild dog(Cuon alpinus), Jackal (Canis Aureus), Hyenae (Hyenal hynae), Sloth Bear ( Melursus ursiness), Gaur (Bos Gaurus), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjack), Chousinga ( Tetracerus Quadricornis), Spotted Deer(Cervus Axis), Nillgai(Bos Elaphus Tragocamelus), Wild Boar(Sus Scrofa), Common langur(Presbytis entellus), Rhesus Monkey(Macaca Mulata) and Black Naped Hare. The rare ones are Ratel(Mellivora Capensis), Other(Lutra Perspics Latta), Flying Squirrel(Petausista Petausista), Pangolin( Manis Crassicaudata), Caracal(Felis Caracal), Rustry Spotted Cat and Mouse Deer.

 

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POPULATION

There are no villages in the core area. There are 61 villages in the Reserve - 22 in the buffer zone and 39 in the Multiple Use Area.  Human population in the buffer zone and MUA is 9160 and 15506 respectively, as per 1991 census. The inhabitants are mainly tribal, largely Korku tribe (80 per cent) and others like Gond, Nihal, Balai, Gaolan, Gawali, Halbi, Wanjari, etc. 

All inhabitants depend on forest for bonafied domestic need of firel wood, timber, fodder, medicinal plants, and non-timber forest like fruit, flowers, gum and medicinal plant part. There main source of income is from labor works and rainy season agriculture. They arguments through collection of non-timber forest produced like Mahuali, Flowers, Seeds, Charoli, Gumcula, Dhawada, Tendu-leaves, Musali ( Medicinal Plant). Lae Shade anchlor etc. There Food is enrich through rhisoms, fruits and other parts of the wild plant species. Fishing is a common hobby as well as daily routine activity protein suppliment. They sometime endelgene poisioning of water using part of plant species to kill fish they also endule end until of Sambar, Wild Beer, Gray Jungle Fallow, Pea Fall and harv ocasional.

Livestock Population : The livestock population of 22 villages in the buffer zones is 11024 and that of 39 villages in Multiple Use Area is 15642, as per census of 1994.

 

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  Fauna & Management

Protection and habitat management are the main inputs here. Issues related to high degree of man-animal conflict are tackled on a priority basis. The Reserve area has been divided into three zones for management purposes and to strike a balance between biodiversity conservation and ecologically sustainable community development.

 Protection/Patrolling Squads: During monsoon, special protection squads carry out foot patrolling to curb the hunting of sambar and wild boar by the local people.  Similar squads are established during the summer for fire protection works.

Village Forest Protection Committees: A Village Forest Protection Committee was established in the village Gullarghat which has taken up the responsibility of conservation of medicinal plants.

Eco-development : Eco-development activities on a pilot basis were taken up during 1992-97. Later, proper eco-development planning under the guidance of WII and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was taken up. The response of the local people to eco-development is encouraging.

Education and Awareness : A Nature Education and Interpretation Centre has been established at Semadoh. Around 50,000 people visit this centre annually. Two orientation centres at Akot and Harisal, and an interpretation centre at Amravati are also planned.

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Special Projects : Botanical Survey of India (BSI) was involved in preparation of the flora list of Melghat.   Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has completed a three-year survey of the area. Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has completed three-year research project on ‘Management of Biodiversity in Central India’.  Another project on ‘Integrated Biodiversity Management in Satpura Hill Range’ has also been initiated.  

Medicinal plant conservation area has been established with the help of Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bangalore.

Control of the Buffer : The buffer and the multiple use area are under dual control of three territorial divisions and the Reserve Management.

Staff : Of the 185 posts, 17 are vacant. Only two out of the seven Range Forest Officers are trained in wildlife management.  The Research Officer (A.C.F.), foresters (23) and forest guards are not specially trained in wildlife management.

Grazing : No grazing exists in the core area. The remaining area is burdened with grazing pressures of 25,000 to 30,000 livestock heads.  However, grazing is intense around the villages and in broad valleys, which are also better habitats for wild herbivores as these are the only sites where water is available.

Fire : There are few incidences (on an average 12 cases per annum) of fire in the core area, affecting 10 per cent of the area. Fires in the buffer and multiple use area of the Reserve are frequent. The grassy tops of the hills (locally called ballas) are prone to fire.  The rugged terrain makes fire protection a difficult job.  Almost 20 per cent of the area gets burns annually.

Poaching of Fauna and Flora : Poaching is rare in the core. The local people hunt sambar and wild boar. Collection of medicinal plants like safed musli Chlorophyllum tuberosum is also noticed.

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Poaching Cases :  

Year

Cases 

1990-91

6

1991-92

7

1992-93

12

1993-94

10

1994-95

8

1995-96

6

1996-97

2

1997-98

5

Highways : Two State Highways - Paratwada to Burhanpur and Akot to Harisal - pass through the Tiger Reserve.  There has been a sudden increase in traffic along the Nagpur-Indore State Highway in the last four years.  This is partly due to a reduction in distance (70 km.) after a new bridge has been constructed in Madhya Pradesh and partly due to better maintenance of the road in Maharashtra.

Diseases   : Foot and mouth disease has been noticed at times but no epidemic has been recorded.

Weeds:  There is a gregarious spread of Lantana camara and Hyptis sauveolens.  Lantana is found in almost all the valleys and village surroundings, where constant grazing takes place. However, it is absent on slopes.  Lantana and Hyptis have spread to roughly 30 per cent and 20 per cent of the area respectively.  

Man - Animal : Tiger prey base in Melghat includes Indian Bison or gaur Bos gaurus, sambar Cervus unicolor, barking deer Muntiacus muntjac, wild boar Sus scrofa, chital Axis axis and chausingha Tetraceros quadricornis. However, gaur and sambar are in low densities. Chital is found only in few pockets and does not contribute much to the prey base. Thus, the domestic cattle substantially contribute towards the prey base, and 400-500 cattle are killed by the tigers and leopards annually. Quite naturally, this is a matter of conflict.

 Injuries and killing of human beings by tiger, leopard and sloth bears is another conflict. The magnitude is amply indicated by the following statistics:                                               

Year

No. of persons injured

No. of persons dead  

1996-97

  6  ( 2 Tigers, 4 Sloth bears)

1 (Tiger)

1997-98

11  ( 1 Tiger, 10 Sloth bears)

1 (Tiger)

1998-99

  5  (     Sloth bears)

-                      

 Offence cases  

Year

Total offences

1994-95

52

1995-96

36

1996-97

18

1997-98

18

1998-99

24

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Man - Forest : People set fire to the forest to facilitate the collection of NTFP and use destructive methods of harvesting gums, honey, fruits, flowers, roots, tubers, medicinal plants etc.  The local people have almost free access for firewood, small timber, bamboo and grasses. 

Action Points :Immediate transfer of entire Reserve area along with staff under the administrative control of the Director. Finalisation of the legal status of Core and Buffer area as National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary respectively. Establishment of a strike force to strengthen protection. Rehabilitation of few villages from the buffer on priority basis. Eco-development in villages in the Multiple Use Area. Joint Forest Management. Staff orientation and training to improve the management capabilities and to provide them adequate essentialities to obtain their commitment. Building up of research and monitoring database to support conservation activities.

Tourism : A 40 sq. km. tourism zone has been established near Semadoh.  During 1992-93 to
1996-97, on an average, about 6000 tourists availed of the tourism facility annually. Tourists visit the Reserve in the three available minibuses to view wildlife.

Infrastructure and Facilities : The Nature education and interpretation centre at Semadoh has four dormitories (64 beds) 10 huts (20 beds) and tent facility. Tent facility (6 tents) has been established at 11 different places to facilitate trekking in the Reserve.

General Information : 

Area:                           1676.49 sq. km.

Core:                            361.28 sq. km.

Buffer:                          788.28 sq. km.

Multiple use area:        526.93 sq. km.

Longitude:                   76°54' E to 77°33' E

Latitude:                     21°15' N to 21°45' N

Altitude:                      350 m. - 1178 m. above msl. 

Rainfall:                      1500 mm. - 2200 mm. 

Temperature:              Minimum: 6 0C

Maximum: 43 0C

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Seasons :

Monsoon:                       Mid -June to September

Winter:                         December to February

Summer:                       March to Mid-June

 

Census : 

Animal

1993

1995

1996

1997

Tiger

72

71

72

73

Leopard

57

57

67

79

Gaur

2974

2138

1512

1755

Sambar

2796

2703

2504

1718

Chausingha

128

111

N.A.

N.A.

Nilgai

254

132

285

232

Barking deer

1656

1672

1191

1302

Wild boar

3988

3350

2278

1966

Monkey

4995

3089

7950

8780

Sloth bear

121

145

200

187

Chital

265

240

402

172

Wild dog

139

202

295

123

Hyaena

50

42

49

37

Jackal

97

51

95

61

(Courtesy : http://www.sanctuaryasia.com) 

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