Nagpur: Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at Pandarkawada Tehsil, in the district of Yavatmal, Maharashtra. Comprising 148.63 square kilometers it came into existence vides the Government of Maharashtra Notification No. WLP/1095-84/F-1-4, dated January 24, 1997 and April 30, 1997. It is situated in far southern corner of Maharashtra state, adjoining the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. It constitutes a compact patch of dense forest cover, having immense value and potential for nature interpretation and bio-diversity conservation, in this region.
With the presence of 8-10 tigers, it can also be a chosen destination for notification as a Tiger Reserve with immense potential for eco-tourism and thereby conservation of the habitat.
The Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is a “Green Oasis” in the southern most part of the Maharashtra State and has a great significance from the point of view of wildlife and bio-diversity conservation. This sanctuary is locked in the arms of the nature and is adorned with picturesque landscape, luxuriant vegetation and serves as living outdoor museum to explore and appreciate the nature. This sanctuary embodies one of the best of our remaining forests, in the remote part of Yavatmal district.
There are various villages located around the sanctuary and thus people depend on the forest for firewood, timber etc. There also are many villages located within the forest who depend on the forest to make a living.
According to a Nagpur-based businessman and a wildlife photographer who regularly visits Tipeshwar, which is approximately 160 km from Nagpur, “The forest is beautiful and it also holds good potential for tiger sightings. However, not a lot of tourists are aware of this place. Hence, we have been in our own ways trying to promote this place. In fact, if more tourists start visiting Tipeshwar it will help the forest department generate a good revenue and more facilities will be developed,” He adding that currently there are locally-run taxi’s and local guides. One might not find plenty of resorts, but there are decent places to stay around 10 kilometers away.
Though not famous among tourists, there has been a growing demand from wildlife experts and even forest officials to get this wildlife sanctuary upgraded to a Tiger Reserve for better conservation and funding and this is in process.
However, it is pertinent to first identify the problems of Tipeshwar and find solutions to them. Important among the problems are one of illicit felling of trees and smuggling out into Andhra Pradesh across the border which has left the forest denuded. This must stop immediately and plantations done to redeem the situation and increase forest cover. Poaching is yet another problem which needs to be stopped forthwith as also the fires in summer. Waterholes created for wildlife inside the forest are invariably invaded by domestic cattle leaving no water for the forest animals. This could lead to a situation of crisis for the wildlife in summer and increase man-animal conflict if the wildlife venture outside the forest in search of water.
It is important to check form the Management Plan if the Plan has been implemented and are relevant to the requirements. If some points seem flawed, then these need be pointed out to the Forest Dept. (FD). If the Plan is good then ask the FD to implement it. It is also important to check if the Forest Department is in a position to implement the Plan. Check gaps between plan and existing issues and ask the FD to fill the gaps.
It is important to first rid the body of the disease and then put it up for tourism. Tourism done within the carrying capacity of the park could improve the situation. Controlled tourism would ensure employment of the local communities and increase their allegiance to the forest as their source of income. Plantation etc. could be done through CAMPA funds. Staff must be inducted and trained as also other personnel.
For tourism to be conducted it is necessary to check the land-use plan for construction of infrastructure and especially for ensuring that the buffer is properly managed. Tourism would be most welcome as soon as all the basic parameters are in order. VED demands that all these basic parameters are looked into immediately and rectified which would eventually go a long way in the conservation of flora and fauna in the Park.