SUBJECT :Forest Department kick-starts the first scientific survey in the wildlife sanctuary 

Serene setting: A view of the Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary in Visakhapatnam.   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Visakhapatnam, March 3, 2018: In a first, the Forest Department will be placing camera traps at 30 locations across the Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary here in an effort to conduct a scientific survey of habitat distribution of animals and document species.

The forest area will be put under hi-tech surveillance to ensure effective monitoring and conservation of the endangered wild animals, including the leopards.

Three phases

Speaking to The Hindu, Divisional Forest Officer Alan Chong Teron said, “The forest has been divided into three survey areas. In the first phase, 10 cameras are being placed in one area for 20 days. After that, we will be covering the other two areas. The entire process will be done over a period of 60 days.”

The first 10 traps were placed at strategic locations on Friday, on the eve of World Wildlife Day.

Spread over an extent of 7,293 hectares, the sanctuary is home to several endangered species of fauna.

“We recently spotted Indian golden gecko, which is a protected species under Schedule 1 category of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act in the caves of the core forest area. The sanctuary also supports species such as the Indian wild dog (dhole) and Indian pangolin, both listed as endangered under the IUCN list, and other important and uncommon species such as the rusty spotted cat and the Indian rock python, another Schedule 1 category species,” said Santosh Edupuganti, consultant for the Visakhapatnam Forest Division and member of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society.

Recently, a 13-foot python was rescued from the tourist area and released into the core area.

The sanctuary also has 114 species of birds, both migratory and resident, and rare raptors such as the white bellied sea eagle.

“Kambalakonda is an important biodiversity hub. But so far, no scientific documentation or study of habitats has been done. The traps are mostly targeted at monitoring the movement of mammals, understanding their habitat distribution and abundance,” Mr. Teron added.

The camera has a motion sensor, which triggers a white flash capturing the animal movement at night time. The mechanism will ensure conservation of endangered animals, enhance the efficiency of forest officials, identify zones prone to wildlife crimes, and provide factual data for effective decision-making.

Gearing up for summer

With harsh climatic conditions fast depleting the water levels of the sanctuary, the department is gearing up to provide water-holes for the benefit of the animals.

“We are anticipating a worse summer this year as compared to the previous years due to deficit rainfall. We have already arranged four saucer pits and planning to add more. Small water-holes will also be dug in the core forest area,” Mr. Teron said. To give a facelift to the sanctuary, the department, in association with adventure firms, has started water and adventure sports activities.

New toilet facilities, with accessibility to the differently-abled, and improved cafeteria are part of the latest measures.

The department plans to introduce guided bird watching tours and organised treks as well soon.


Source: The Hindu