Hyderabad: All is not well at Maddimadugu, the core area of Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR). Extensive growth of Prosopis Juliflora (Sarcar Tumma) trees and illegal cattle grazing at Maddimadugu have been major causes of concern since they are affecting forest regeneration.
Shepherds and cattle farmers, especially those migrating from far-off places, including those from Nalgonda, Narayanpet, Gadwal and Mahabubnagar districts, are venturing deep into the ATR for cattle grazing.
This is rampant from Kambalapalli area from Nalgonda end. Shepherds and cattle farmers take their cattle to Maddimadugu area for grazing. Cattle graze the local flora, leaving Prosopis Juliflora (Sarcar Tumma) trees as it has thorns. This species has now invaded an area of nearly 300 acres in the locality, a senior official from the Forest department told Telangana Today.
Shepherds and cattle farmers camp for months together in the area. Usually, they enter the forests during monsoon and stay there till Sankranthi festival. Thereafter, they head towards Andhra Pradesh for harvesting and return during monsoon. They camp for nearly four months during every trip, the official says.
This practice is affecting the local flora and fauna. Maddimadugu is significant as the population of Chinkaras is high in this part of ATR. With cattle grazing the local flora, availability of natural species is getting limited for Chinkaras and other animals, explains the official.
Further, the cattle, sheep and goats, develop foot and mouth infections and such cattle are discarded and left to die. There is every possibility of wild animals getting infected through these cattle. It is risky in terms of tiger and other animals conservation, informs the official.
What is more striking is that cattle farmers, usually high-income groups from far-off places like Nalgonda, Narayanpet, Gadwal and other places, hire local shepherds for rearing their cattle in groups of 1,500 to 2,000 cows and oxen. Once a calf grows to a sizeable height and weight, it is sold in the markets for beef, says the official.
These apart, they own nearly 700 sheep and 800 goats. They hire local shepherds for monthly charges of Rs.200 to Rs.300, besides offering required rice and other provisions.
Forest department always permits local farmers and shepherds from Bapanapadu, Maredu and Padara villages around Maddimadugu into the forest. “But the practice of those venturing from far-off places into Maddimadugu area has to be stopped. At times, there is political pressure too asking us to permit the shepherds from other areas into the forests,” points out the official.
Measures being taken by Forest dept
To check cattle being brought from far-off places to the forests for grazing, local forest officials have been creating awareness among local villagers to prevent those from other areas in venturing into the forests. They are issuing public notices and directing other departments not to permit the migration of shepherds from far-off places into Maddimadugu. In some instances, cases have also been booked against shepherds and cattle farmers for venturing into the deep forests.
Further, the Forest department offers compensation only to local cattle farmers in case of any wild animal attack. Compensation is not offered to cattle from other areas venturing into the forests, but despite this, many continue with the practice. This reflects how lucrative the practice is turning out for the cattle farmers, the official adds.
How Juliflora invaded ATR?
Prosopis Juliflora grows well in barren lands and in areas where water availability is scarce. While local species (Acacia Nilotica) is considered to be good in terms of forest rejuvenation and wildlife, Prosopis Juliflora can have an adverse impact on the local habitat.
In the 1960s, the State government had dropped the Prosopis Juliflora seeds from aircraft in Maddimadugu and neighbouring areas to increase green cover and ensure the provision of firewood for local people. That’s how it derived the name Sarcar Tumma locally, says another official from the department.
During the last three decades, the species covered a sizeable area in the core area of ATR. They are not considered good for local flora as it affects their growth. Prosopis Juliflora grows rapidly like a weed. Even if it is burnt, it manages to grow back faster and this results in degradation of local habitat. It needs to be uprooted from the root to cut down its growth, explains the official.
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