Panaji: The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has suggested inclusion of Goa as a part of the Tiger Reserve complex complimenting the sanctuaries in Maharashtra and Karnataka, which would help the coastal state in conserving wild cats.
The Dehradun-based Institute, which submitted its report on the status of wildlife in Goa to the state forest department has established that tiger occupancy in Goa is about 322 square kilometres.
Goa can be potentially be home to a small breeding population of tigers which would be sustained by immigrants from Anshi-Dandeli wildlife sanctuary (in Karnataka) as well as Sahyadri wildlife sanctuary (in Maharashtra).
The census conducted in 2010, and results of which were formally sent to Goa forest department few days back, notes that tiger presence is recorded in Mollem wildlife sanctuary and in forests of Ponda and Sanguem area.
Goa has five wildlife sanctuaries and a national park.
The report states that Goa forms part of the corridor connecting Anshi-Dandeli in Karnataka and Sahyadri tiger reserve in Maharashtra.
"It would therefore benefit from being incorporated as part of tiger reserve complex," the WII said.
State forest department officials said the proposal to declare Goa`s forest areas as tiger reserve has been under consideration but final thought is not given to it.
"There are so many intricacies attached to it once the Tiger Reserve is announced. We have several human settlements in wildlife sanctuaries. But the process to relocate them is far from over," a senior forest department official said.
Environmentalists, however, claim that the state government`s reluctance to declare wildlife sanctuaries especially Mhadei as a tiger reserve, is aimed at saving Goa`s multi-crore iron ore mining industry.
Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar said the mining industry
has been pressuring the state government against declaring the wildlife sanctuaries as tiger reserve.
As per the recent Justice M B Shah commission report, which probed the illegal mining industry of Goa, there are 33 mining leases which are operating within one kilometer of the wildlife sanctuary.
Goa which exports 43 million metric tonnes of iron ore annually and is the largest exporter state in the country.