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Introduction

Nagarjunasagar spreads over five districts, Nalgonda, Mahaboobnagar, Kurnool, Prakasam and Guntur, in Andhra Pradesh state of India. The Krishna river flows through the Reserve over a distance of 130 km. The multipurpose reservoirs, Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar, which are important sources of irrigation and power in the State are located in the Reserve. The reservoirs and temples of Srisailam are major attraction for a number of tourists and pilgrims from all over the country and abroad.

The area is hilly, considerably varying from plains to precipitous cliffs. High hills, deep valleys and gorges are characteristic features. More than 80 per cent of the area is gently rolling to hilly. The hill ranges contain number of plateau of which Amrabad, Srisailam, Peddacheruvu, Sivapuram, Nekkanti are note worthy.

Nagarjunasagar receives rains from South-West monsoon as well as North-East monsoon. The South-West monsoon is active from second half of June to end September. After a dry spell of one month during October, North-East monsoon becomes active.

The Wildlife is generally confined to plateaues during monsoon and in valleys during summer. The perennial water sources are generally located in the valleys and the plateaus suffer from acute scarcity for water during summer.

The River Krishna is the oldest river in the country, which has cut its basin almost 200 m deep. Many water falls such as Ethipothala, Pedda Dukudu, Gundam and Chaleswaram are amazingly beautiful.

Conservation History

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The Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Sanctuary was notified in 1978. It was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1983. The Reserve was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in 1992. Before independence, the southern half of the Reserve area was under the control of the British while the northern half was controlled by the rulers of princely State of Hyderabad, who maintained it as a reserve for royal hunting.

Census

                   
Animal
1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995
1996
1997
 
         
Tiger
90
80 97 24 51 30
34
28
39
Panther
200
60 54 -- 44 42
54
68
67
Sloth bear
300
-- 49 -- -- 16
400
--
--
Wild dog
200
-- 94 -- -- 141
250
--
--
Jackal
500
-- -- -- -- --
--
--
--
Chital
5000
-- -- -- -- --
--
--
--
Sambar
2000
-- 319 -- -- 154
46
--
--
Nilgai
2000
-- -- -- -- --
--
--
--
Chinkara
1500
-- -- -- -- --
--
--
--
Chouwsinga
2000
-- -- -- -- --
--
--
--
Wild boar
5000
-- -- -- -- --
--
--
--
Crocodiles
300
-- -- -- -- --
--
--
--

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Archeology   

This area contains ruins of the ancient Nagarjuna Viswa Vidyalayam run by the great Buddhist scholar Nagarjunacharya (150 A.D.).

The ruins of the fort of Ikshwaku Chandragupta a ruler of 3rd century B.C. are present in the area overlooking a valley called Nirjivapuram (Lifeless city). The ancient fort of Pratap Rudra a king of Kakateeya dynasty and many other forts are seen on the banks of the "Krishna". An ancient wall over a length of 105 miles constructed by the Kakateeyas is an interesting feature.

This area contains a number of geo-morphological features e.g. rock shelters and cave temples such as 1) Akka Mahadevi Bhilam, 2) Dattatreya Bhilam, 3) Umaa Maheswaram, 4) Kadalivanam, e) Palankasari.

The ancient shrines of Lord Mallikharjuna and his consort goddess "Bhramaramba" respectively contain one of the 12 Jyothirlingas and one of the eighteen Maha Shakthi peethas of the country.


Forest Types 

Southern Tropical dry mixed deciduous forest ,Hardwickia forest ,Southern thorn forest ,Southern Euphorbia scrub .

Major Flora

Main Species

Anogeissus latifolia, Cleisthanthus collinus, Terminalia spp., Pterocarpus marsupium, Hardwickia binata, Boswellia serrata, Tectona grandis, Mandelia suberora, Albizzia spp..

Major Fauna

Main Species

Mammals: Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Wild Dog, Pangolin, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Mouse Deer, Black Buck, Chinkara, Chowsinga, Mugger, Python, Cobra, Peafowl..

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Management 

Practices, Achievements and Shortfalls

Protection is the most important input of the management. Water and fire management as well as improvement of habitat have been keen issues dealt with by the Reserve Management.

Improvement of water resources was given top priority. Existing small tanks were deepened to ensure more water storage. Forty check-dams were constructed to increase number of water points by arresting water in the streams which otherwise would have gone unutilized. Seventy artificial water troughs were constructed and water is supplied through tankers as frequently as necessary in high scarcity areas. Salt licks were also provided.

The fire hazard is considerably reduced by creating more fire lines and maintaining the existing ones. During summer separate fire fighting squads are deployed to extinguish the fire in the initial stages itself.

Weeds, Parthenium and Lantana, were recently removed from 3000 ha, near the water holes.

The compensation for cattle and human kills were paid as early as possible.

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Special Projects     

The Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board (APSEB) is going to provide Rs. 50 million for conservation in lieu of forest land diverted for erection of 400 KV transmission line through the Reserve.

The main components of the scheme are habitat improvement; water conservation; maintenance of buildings, roads, wireless network etc.

Documentation of ethnobotanical knowledge of the tribes by Dr. P. Ramachandra Reddy, P.G. College of Science, Hyderabad.

Ethnobotanical medical plant wealth of Nagarjunasagar by Dr. R.R. Venkata Raju, S.K. University, Anantapur.

New Initiatives

Eco-development

Implementation of eco-development activities in forest dependent villages has bridged the gap between management and the communities. The villagers have started realizing the need for conservation of bio-diversity. They are now cooperating with the management in curbing destruction of habitat. Involvement of community in decision making is now yielding encouraging results.

The families dependent on commercial exploitation of fuel wood are being encouraged to take up alternative income generation activities.

Endeavor was made to improve the fodder resources by raising grass plots in the vicinity of tribal villages, to cater to their needs and to reduce the grazing pressure in the forest areas.

In order to reduce the fuel wood consumption, the non-conventional energy sources like biogas plants and solar lamps have been introduced to a limited extent. Apart from this the smokeless chullahs and portable chullahs were also provided to the villagers.

One important component of the eco-development is education and awareness. This has brought a dramatic change in the attitude of the extremists towards environment. Now they are not causing any harm to the habitat or staff.

Village Forest Protection Committees

Eco-development committees (EDCs) numbering 115, have been constituted in and around the Reserve not only to reduce the dependency of the villagers but also to check and plug all the smuggling routes in the forest. Most of the committees have already taken the conservation of the habitat as a major concern. Apart from this 85 Vanasamrakshna Samithis are functioning outside the Reserve, which in conjunction with EDCs spare no efforts to destruction of forest. With the help of these committees, protection level has increased.

Protection of tiger has received a particular boost due to EDCs. The EDCs have become mechanisms reporting of cattle kills and tiger poisoning from remote and inaccessible areas of the tiger reserve. To encourage open dialogue about cattle kills and to prevent retribution, Tiger Conservation Programme, WWF-India was instrumental in developing a package of compensation /rewards for the reporting of such kills by villagers. This has been highly useful.

Protection Squads / Patrolling

Environmental Education for a better understanding and appreciation of the Reserve is being imparted. Forest department had published brochures, pamphlets, posters, and stickers. One Environmental Education Centre is functioning at Srisailam since 1988, and attracts most of the tourists visiting Srisailam Temple. The second one at Mannanur is in the offing. The Environmental Education Centre has video and movie library. The films are screened at the Centre as well as in the adjoining villages. The Centre attracts about 50,000 people annually.

Infrastructure and Facilities

Three Forest Rest Houses and 40 bed capacity dormitories are available for tourist occupation in this Tiger Reserve, at Srisailam, Mannanur and Nagarjunasagar. There is connection to Srisailam from Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Guntur, Kurnool, Markapur. The distance from these town to Srisailam ranges between 90 to 240 km.

Education and Awareness

A Nature Education and Interpretation Centre has been established at Semadoh. Around 50 thousand people visit this centre annually. Two orientation centres at Akot and Harisal, and an interpretation centre at Amravati are also planned.

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Constraints

Human population

About 200 villages are situated in and around the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve of which 120 villages are within the sanctuary limits.

The overall population density is 0.2 persons per km2. The population grew at the rate of 1.3 per cent over the inter-census period 1981-1991.

There are 24 villages, comprising 557 families with a population of 2285, in the core.

8432 families with a population of 43978 in Non-core are residing within the sanctuary limits. Remaining 80 villages with 24531 families consisting of 1,22,751 people are in the fringe.

Livestock population

There are about 15000 domestic animals in the villages in the core area. The annual growth is around 400. Livestock population in non-core part of the Reserve is 43350. Around three lakh migratory cattle enter into the Reserve from the plains, immediately after the onset of monsoons.

Encroachment

Since the inception of Tiger Reserve, no encroachment has been noticed. There are some old encroachments.

Grazing

Migratory cattle posing threat to the habitat.

Fire

The forest floor is set to fire for new flush of grasses by the migratory cattle grazers

Poaching of fauna and flora

The forest of the Reserve is an oasis and meets the demands of small timber and fuel wood of all the surrounding districts. Timber is smuggled down to the plains.

Poaching Cases

     
Year
Tiger
Other
  1990-91
--
  1
  1991-92
--
  --
  1992-93
--
  1
  1993-94
--
  --
  1994-95
--
  1
  1995-96
--
  2
  1996-97
--
  2










Criminals and Extremists

The presence of extremists in this area is evident. The subordinate staff is literally scared to move freely in the interior of the Reserve. Vehicle movement is also restricted. However, a wireless network connecting few important places has been established.

Highways

One highway passes through the Reserve, vertically over a length of 140 km., from Mannanur in Mahaboobnagar District to Dornal in Prakasam District Another highway runs along the southern boundary of the Reserve over a length of 50 km. from Nallaguntala to Bairlutty.

Diseases

No record.

Irrigation Project

1.

2.

3.

4.



5.

Nagarjunasagar- Irrigation and Hydro Electric Project.

Srisailam - Hydro Electric Project.

Varadarajaswamy Irrigation Project.

Veligonda Project Tunnel Scheme (There has been a plan to divert Srisailam water through tunneling. However permission for survey has been denied by Government of India).

S.L.B.C. Tunnel Scheme (There is a plan to divert Srisailam water through tunneling).


Electric lines

Srisailam to Hyderabad
Srisailam to Vijayawada
Srisailam to Kurnool (under erection)


Control of the Buffer

During 1999, all the buffer zone of the reserve has been brought under the control of the management of the N.S.T.R.

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Conflicts

Man-Animal

Any problem related to man-animal or man-forest is being resolved by the ecodevelopment committees.

Man-Forest

About 840 families are dependent on fuel selling. About 550 families in Mahaboobnagar and Kurnool districts are dependent on collection of Adda leaves for leaf-plate making. At times, for easy and increased procurement of Add a leaves, the supporting tree on which the climber twines, are felled. In all around, 1060 families are depending on this business earning an amount of Rs.15.90 lakh per annum.

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Action Points  

   
The water resource development: check-dams on the seasonal streams and deepening of small tanks on priority basis.
2.
Protection measures need to be enhanced by forming one more mobile squad headed by a Forest Range Officer on the left flank of river Krishna. Jeeps are to be provided to the each Forest Range Officer, to increase mobility. The wireless network is to be improved to arrest smuggling.
3.
More pastures to be developed in buffer zone to cater to the need of the local and migratory cattle to reduce the pressure on forests.
4.
The denuded and depleted hill slopes are to be re-stocked to improve the habitat.
5.
More fire fighting squads
6.
Eco-development implementation in right earnest.


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