A central report on Namdapha tiger reserve has said the road from Deban to Vijayanagar running through the middle of the reserve could be a threat as this could be used for wildlife trade.
The management effectiveness evaluation report for the tiger reserve prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority said — though not identified in the tiger conservation plan — the road from Deban to Vijayanagar (85-90 km) could be a major threat.
“The road, which is now maintained by the public works department could be helpful in protection, if managed under the tiger reserve authorities. This, however, could be a major threat to the park as this would be used by the PWD and Arunachal transport corporation to run buses for the villagers in Gandhigram and beyond, who are currently using helicopter services or move on foot,” the report said.
It mentioned about the absence of a checkpost in Gandhigram located on the border of the tiger reserve. A few days ago, police seized tiger skin and a tusk which reportedly were coming from Assam and meant for Myanmar. “This also indicates the possibility that the path even now could be an important wildlife trade route,” the report said.
“The park authorities, though aware of the problem, are forced to see the road as an advantage mostly because of lack of infrastructure and manpower and hope that this would facilitate protection,” it said.
Field director of Namdapha tiger reserve S.J. Jongsam said the road from Deban to Vijaynagar remains open for about 2-3 months in a year and remains blocked because of erosion and other problems.
“The threat is negligible as its remains blocked for majority of the year,”Jongsam toldThe Telegraph.
The 1,985 square km Namdapha tiger reserve is located in eastern Arunachal Pradesh in Changlang district. It was declared a tiger reserve in 1983. The tiger reserve is divided into three ranges — Miao, Namdapha and Gandhigram ranges. Six patrolling/anti-poaching camps are currently available, but all these are on the western part of the tiger reserve. Because of inaccessibility to most of the areas of the tiger reserve it cannot be covered by the patrolparty. The staff on the whole seems to be enthusiastic but most of them have not even received the travelling allowance for quite some time.
“Moreover, there is no mechanism in place to brief the staff on the objectives of the tiger reserve in detail though they are all aware of the importance of protection. There is no incentive/reward given though provisions are there,” the report said.
The area is rich in terms of plants and animals with several endemics and rare species. Fourteen new species of beetles, four species of molluscs, five new species of fishes, three new species of amphibians, including the only Indian Salamander, the Namdapha flying squirrel, leaf deer and black barking deer all indicate the uniqueness of the area.
“The area is under-explored because of the type of forests and terrain as a number of groups of animals and plants especially in the higher reaches are yet to be systematically documented. The status of only a few of the major groups of animals has been done,” the report said, adding that except for the annual census conducted in four zones, a permanent monitoring mechanism for tiger is yet to be in place.