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31 March, 2008

A case for expanding India's second oldest Reserve Forest

Background
Devarayanadurga state forest (DDSF) has seen many changes in its boundaries since it first got protection status by the British, way back in 1853. When it finally got notified in 1907 as a Reserve Forest, for unknown reasons, some parts of the forest were excluded from its official boundaries. These are chiefly the slopes along the periphery of state forest’s hills. These have been under control of the state's revenue department but protected by the forest department.

Proposed 'Devarayanadurga East Yellow-throated Bulbul' Conservation Reserve in relation to Devarayanadurga State Forest (sketched from Survey of India sheet No:57 G/3, Scale 1:50,000) Ameen Ahmed, March 2008

Wildlife
India's largest butterfly, over 250 bird species, some of India's most beautiful mammals and snakes, all live in DDSF and its surrounding revenue forests. The Yellowthroated Bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus), endemic to interior peninsular India and categorised as 'Vulnerable' by Birdlife International - IUCN’s official red list authority for birds, deserves special mention. First sighted here by well-known ornithologist Dr.S.Subramanya, it is found here in large numbers. As part of observing of the state forest's 'centenary year' - its final notification in 1907, a bio-diversity survey of the revenue forests around Devaranayadurga village was conducted this March by WANC. Wildlife biologists and scientists from IISc also participated in this. During this exercise, Dr.Gururaja KV added 4 new species to the previous list of 6 amphibians here.


A sketch on a picture showing the forested slopes proposed to be included in the proposed conservation reserve. They were originally excluded from the final notification of the forest by the then Government of Mysore, in 1907.

A sketch on a picture showing the forested slopes proposed to be included in the proposed conservation reserve. They were originally excluded from the final notification of the forest by the then Government of Mysore, in 1907.
(Above and below) View of the Yellowthroated Bulbul habitat

Importance
Apart from being a haven for rare and threatened wildlife, its jungles are a catchment area for tens of streams. These streams provide much needed water for tens and thousands of villagers along their courses. Two irrigation reservoirs - Irraksandra and Teetha, apart from countless small ‘keres’ (small man-made lakes or ponds) are fed by the rivers Jaya and Mangali which originate here and for whom this forest forms a major catchment area.

Conservation
Like the rest of urban and semi-urban India, Tumkur district has been expanding by leaps and bounds. There has been an immense pressure on natural areas to meet the demands of development, particularly the boom in construction of not only Tumkur District but that of Greater Bangalore as well. There is an urgent need to safeguard current and future interests of humans as well as wildlife in and around our urban centres. This has to be done by sustainably using our non-renewable natural resources. Expanding official boundaries of forests like DDSF by including the existing wooded areas contiguous with them and retaining the legitimate rights of local villagers, is one way of doing it. In this direction, a team from the local NGO Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC) has been identifying the potential forest areas around DDSF that are currently free of human habitations and developmental activities like quarrying. A proposal is being prepared to submit to the state forest department, in April this year, for a Yellowthroated Bulbul Conservation Reserve to be carved out from the revenue forests surrounding Devarayanadurga village, under India's Wildlife Protection Act (1972). This proposal is a part of WANC’s overall strategy to conserve DD’s revenue forests.

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For an earlier story on the Revenue forests of Devarayanadurga, please see this link:

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post. Some thing to think about and act in a responsible manner about nature.
    found your blog through tumkurinfo.com/forum

    ReplyDelete

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