Large carnivores have important roles in many ecosystems. Because they kill other animals as prey, they often symbolize power in many cultures across the world. However, most large carnivores are threatened today due to many reasons and carnivore habitats are rapidly becoming fragmented and isolated. Scientific studies have found that connectivity between habitats is crucial to maintain viable populations of large carnivores in the near future. Now that requires action!
The Sahyadri Corridor project focuses on four large carnivores found in Western Ghats in India. This includes the tiger (Panthera tigris), dhole (Cuon alpinus), sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), and the leopard (Panthera pardus). The tiger and dhole are Endangered, the sloth bear is Vulnerable, and the leopard is Near Threatened according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Our project has identified critical linkages in connectivity for large carnivores in the Sahyadri-Konkan corridor, part of the northern Western Ghats in India. This important landscape for large carnivores is almost 7000 sq.km in size. Our objective now is to incorporate the importance of corridors in policy and protected area management through improved fine-scale assessments and local action. We also want to involve more stakeholders as part of 'conservation networks' to maintain and enhance corridor connectivity for large carnivores. This website is an online resource which can help in conservation of this fragile corridor.
The Sahyadri-Konkan corridor
Why this project?
Large carnivores occur at low densities given their demands for substantial amounts of resources such as food (prey) and habitat. Therefore, small-sized protected areas alone may not be enough for sustaining viable populations of large predators in the long-term. If populations of large carnivores remain isolated then it would eventually result in inbreeding, and loss of genetic diversity. Such inbred populations are very vulnerable to extinction, and can be completely wiped out due to a disease epidemic. Therefore, in human-dominated landscapes, corridors are crucial for most large carnivores to ensure their long-term persistence. Such corridors may be designed by incorporating various forms of land-use and through people's support. Now that's an exciting prospect!
The Sahyadri-Konkan corridor comprises three protected areas in Maharashtra, five in Goa, and three in Karnataka. Its total size is about 10, 800 sq.km and there are two tiger reserves, viz. the Sahyadri tiger reserve in Maharashtra and Kali tiger reserve in Karnataka. This corridor forms the northernmost limit where tigers and dholes still occur in the Western Ghats. Even though protection for some habitats has improved recently, such as in the Sahyadri tiger reserve, connectivity is threatened due to large-scale habitat modification outside protected areas. This is why we want to create a network of local stakeholders to maintain and enhance connectivity, and include the importance of corridors in protected area management and regional policy.