Maharashtra creates 29 safe corridor for tigers, elephants as Tillari Conservation Region

The corridor that has been designated as the CR has no human settlement and maximum forest cover.

Credit : Google Maps

Mumbai: Maharashtra Government, on Tuesday, declared 29.53 sq. Km area across 10 villages in Dodamarg taluka of Sindhudurg district as a Conservation Reserve (CR). While this area, comprised within the Sawantwadi Forest Division, is home and a wildlife corridor to several large mammals like tigers and elephants, environmentalists have hoped that this will help oppose the most imminent threat of mining in the area.

A total of 10 villages in the proposed area Bambarde, Ghatiwade, Kendre Bank, Kendre Khadi, Patiye, Shirange, Konal, Ainode, Hewale and Medhe have been deemed under the Tillari CR by the State Government. This is known to be the only corridor for the movement of large mammals in the area, without which, the northern Western Ghats could be completely inaccessible to these animals.

“The said region is crucial for wildlife in the area. It also acts as a major corridor for large mammals like tigers, leopards, elephants, wild dogs connecting the protected areas in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka,” said PhD student Anushka Rege, who has been working in the region for her academic research. Rege is presently pursuing her PhD at the Asian School of the Environment and Earth Observatory of Singapore, NTU Singapore.

“Tigers don’t understand borders. And therefore, safely protected corridors for their movement are very essential,” said Goa-based environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar.



The corridor will help connect the Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra to the Bhimgad Sanctuary in Karnataka. There was no continuous protected passageway between these areas all these years. The Tillari CR is also adjacent to Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa.

“The Sahyadris are a linear mountain chain, and this southernmost part was the pinch-point that needed to be connected in the wildlife corridor. Designating this area as CR will ensure that the connectivity of the corridor is intact,” said Girish Punjabi, Wildlife Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).

In fact, it has also been said that protecting the Tillari forest might help resolve the recurring man-animal conflict in the villages on the Maharashtra-Karnataka-Goa border between villagers and elephants.

“The conflict began in the first place because a lot of disturbance began in and around the areas where the elephants resided due to anthropogenic activities. Once habitat protection is given to elephants, it could certainly help reduce the man-animal conflict. But at the same time, scientific mitigation strategies must also be implemented to resolve the issue,” Punjabi explained.

Speaking about the efforts made for the conservation of this area, Kerkar told Indie Journal, “This was a long-awaited decision. From the year 2000 onward, we had been demanding that the whole Tillari region must be protected. We had also submitted a proposal to declare Sahyadri Eco-Sensitive Region to the Maharashtra Government back then, as well as the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”

The corridor that has been designated as the CR has no human settlement and maximum forest cover.

“There are 59 mining leases in these areas. That is why no government was interested in declaring the region a protected area,” Kerkar said.

Some people have also pointed out that while the whole stretch from Dodamarg to Sawantwadi is a rich biodiversity area, why has hardly 30 sq. km. of area been allocated to the CR. Stating that the area is hardly 10 percent of the total corridor, they have questioned if the rest 90 percent has been deliberately left out of CR for facilitating mining and monoculture plantations in the area.



However, according to Rege, these small steps help make a major difference in the long run, so this decision should be looked at as a victory.

“The area seems small, but biodiversity-wise, it is very rich. My Master's research in the area was also within a stretch of 25 sq. km. However, we found captures of 11 mammal species in our camera traps, along with signs of even more. So this corridor is going to help study and conserve a large number of animals as well as endemic flora,” she said.

The researcher added, “When even though the designated CR may seem small, in reality, it adds weight to the argument in favour of the importance of biodiversity in the region and helps advocate against any proposed mining or destructive development activities.”

Having said that, Kerkar also said that the environmentalists will continue to demand more areas to be included in the CR.

“The areas surrounding some of the villages in the CR are also highly important from a conservation point of view. We will keep pushing for more and more areas to be protected,” he added.

Punjabi also stated that right now the government has only included the government-owned land, but there are several pockets that have private ownership, and those also need to be included in the CR.

Tillari is the seventh conservation reserve in Maharashtra, and the first in Sindhudurg district. This reserve could also be instrumental in dealing with the man-animal conflict between people and elephants on the Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka border regions.