Panaji: Goa`s BJP-led Government may push ahead with a proposal to declare Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and its adjoining areas as a tiger reserve, a move which if implemented will help in curbing mining in forest areas.
State Forest Department is in talks with a local environmentalist, Nirmal Kulkarni, and NGOs associated with Ranathambore Tiger Reserve to collect data to establish presence of tigers in the sanctuary spread over 208.48 km.
"The data will be collected through camera-traps, images and indirect evidences like tiger scat and their pug marks," Chief Wildlife Warden Richard D`Souza said.
The sanctuary, located in North-Eastern Goa, is a continuous corridor for tigers, who usually walk into the region from neighbouring Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and also Maharashtra`s Sahyadri Tiger Reserve.
D`Souza claimed that providing tiger reserve status to Mhadei will not be a difficult task, but it will require rehabilitation of the villagers living within the sanctuary.
As per Government estimates, 28 hamlets are located inside the sanctuary, carved out to protect wroughton`s free- tailed bat, which is on the brink of extinction.
The latest survey by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has established the presence of tigers over 322 sq km covering six wildlife sanctuaries in the coastal state.
The survey was conducted by WII with the help of 60 officers and personnel of Goa Forest Department. "Goa can potentially be home to a small breeding population of tigers which would be sustained by immigrants from Anshi-Dandeli as well as Sahyadri," WII said in a report to the Government.
Tiger reserve status to wildlife sanctuaries will go a long way in curbing mining menace which has gripped the forest areas of Goa, activists have said.
Government records indicate that there are 44 active mines in the vicinity of wildlife sanctuaries. Moreover, 34 mining leases exist within the sanctuaries.