Lantana kidnapping under MGNREGA launched at Bandipur

The Forest Department on Friday launched a program to eradicate lantana camara – an inedible weed that has proliferated across Bandipur – under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.

This was part of the International Tiger Day celebrated jointly in association with the Mysuru Regional Museum of Natural History.

The program took place in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and the authorities plan to clear 1,000 hectares and the local community on the edge of the forest will be offered jobs under the MGNREGA for this purpose.

Ramesh Kumar, director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, said the proliferation of lantanas was a major challenge for park authorities, not only in Bandipur but also in other tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. Although various methods have been used to control the proliferation of the weed, it has not shown much success and will therefore be uprooted under the MGNREGA programme, he added.

The lantana overgrowth not only suppresses other edible plants leading to shortage of fodder, but it could also negatively affect the herbivore population and thus directly affect the tiger and leopard population in the national park.

On the occasion of International Tiger Day, the authorities also congratulated the field staff because the summer of 2022 did not see a fire. Mr. Ramesh Kumar said the field staff worked hard to prevent any fires from starting and also undertook other ecological development works in recognition of which they were commended.

Jagatram, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF), said there has been a steady increase in the tiger population in Bandipur since 2006 and the 2022 tiger estimation exercise has been completed, while expressing confidence that Karnataka could become the number one state in terms of tiger population with Bandipur harboring the highest number of tigers among the tiger reserves.

The park authorities also intend to highlight the various activities and development works taking place in and around the tiger reserve and therefore a new quarterly newsletter has also been released on the occasion.

In an effort to raise awareness of tigers and the imperatives of their conservation, a cycling rally was also reported at the Melkamanahalli checkpoint. Gundlupet MLA Niranjan Kumar, .Malathi Priya, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mysuru, Charulatha Somal, Deputy Commissioner, Chamarajanagar and others were present.

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