In a welcome development, the Karnataka state government has extended the boundaries of Bannerghatta national park and four wildlife sanctuaries (Dandeli, Mookambika, Cauvery and Someshwara) adding an incremental 1,255.64 sq km to the state’s protected area (PA) network. This constitutes a 20% increase in the overall size of PAs in the state. This has been achieved by merging the existing sanctuaries with adjoining reserve forests.
Specifically, Bannerghatta grew from 102.74 sq km to 260.51 sq km (254%), Dandeli from 638.34 to 886.41 (139%), Mookambika from 247 to 370.37 (150%), Cauvery from 526.95 to 1027.53 (195%) and Someshwara from 88.40 to 314.25 (355%).
“With adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphologic, natural and zoological significance, it is suited for protecting, propagating and developing wildlife or its environment. These additional areas will act as barriers to the core area and will help in better management of wildlife habitat,” the notification reads.
These decisions were taken during the State Wildlife Board meeting chaired by then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, on July 26, 2011 and seconded by the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), which on October 14, 2011, approved rationalisation of boundaries of the forests.
Additional Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary, Forests, Kaushik Mukherjee said: “The Board has analysed the proposal very critically, and has approved more areas to be reserved under wildlife conservation. A holistic view of sanctuaries has been taken to protect the forests better. Diversion of forest land for development projects will be very little”.
The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as sanctuary in 1998; Mookambika in 1974; Cauvery in 1984; Someshwara in 1979; while Bannerghatta was declared and notified as a national park in 1975.