It required the intervention of a court and conservationists for Karnataka’s forest department to stop the destruction of a critical tiger corridor. A private firm had been permitted to set up windmills at the spot in the Western Ghats, in violation of rules.
Recently, the government withdrew the permission given to a Bangalore-based hydropower firm to install windmills to generate 25 MW power in the Moorkangudda Reserved Forests in Sakleshpur Taluk of Hassan district.
Moorkangudda acts as a critical link between Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park and is home to endangered wildlife, including tiger, leopard, wild dog, gaur, sambar and several other species protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The area has grassland, shola forests and matches Bababudangiri area in its natural beauty.
Despite concerns raised by Karnataka’s energy department in its order that “the area falls within forest area and that it was unlikely to get forest clearance”, the forest department had permitted to start testing work for the power firm.
However, in response to a public interest litigation filed by Prashant Yavagal and Western Ghats Environment Forum, the forest department withdrew the permission for extension of the testing period.
“This is a positive step by the forest department to save this excellent tiger habitat. Though this area could have low densities of large carnivores, it acts as a critical corridor between southern and northern Western Ghats” wildlife biologist Sanjay Gubbi said.
Last year, the forest department had proposed the inclusion of a few reserved forests in this area to the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, including Moorkangudda because of its high ecological value.
“In the interest of long-term tiger conservation efforts in the state it is critically important to connect all protected areas through existing corridors or else once these corridors are lost the concept of source-sink model for tiger conservation will be obsolete,” Gubbi added.
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