The largest of India's Tiger Reserves, the
Nagarjunasagar - Srisailam Sanctuary lies in the state of
Andhra Pradesh. The major attractions of
this sanctuary are Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Bear and Hyena.
The Nagarjunasagar - Srisailam sanctuary is located in Guntur, Prakasam, Kurnool, Mahaboobnagar and Nalgonda districts, at a distance of 29-km from Macherla and about 150-km from Hyderabad . It spans about 3568-sq-kms in area.
The sanctuary is surrounded by the Nallamalai hills on the southern and eastern sides, while the Krishna River forms the boundary on the other side. The sanctuary is named after the Nagarjunasagar reservoir, formed by a large dam in the northeastern part. The central and western parts of the sanctuary consist of a plateau, representing one of the oldest geological formations, known as "Archaean" and dating back some 2,000 million years.
The Flora And Fauna
Dry deciduous mixed forest with scrub and bamboo thickets provide shelter to a wide range of animals. The terrain is rugged and winding gorges slice through the Nallamalai hills. Spotted Deers, Mouse Deers, Black Bucks, Sambhars, Chousingha Nilgai, Wild Boars, Indian Giant Squirrels, Tree Shrews, Rayels, Mugger Crocodiles, Wild Dogs, Jackals, Wolves, Foxes, Sloth Bear, Panthers and Tigers are the animal attractions of this sanctuary.
In this forest the tiger is truly nocturnal and is rarely seen. The reserve was home to about 100 tigers at the beginning of this decade. However, according to a census conducted in 1997, the tiger population has fallen steeply to about 20.
Importance Of Tiger Conservation
The Tiger, the major carnivore at the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, faces the threat of extinction in spite of its resilience and adaptability.
The importance of tiger conservation lies in the fact that the presence of this predator is an indicator of the health of an ecosystem. A natural forest in which the tiger thrives offers benefits that cannot be quantified easily in terms of money. These include protection of the topsoil; retention of groundwater, which is released through the year; and preservation of biomass resources and the flora.
Present State Of The Sanctuary
Apart from the measures taken for tiger conservation, there is a decline in the tiger population in the sanctuary. Apart from this fact, the poor state of the vegetation and the diminishing number of large mammals, especially herbivores, also point to the alarming state of affairs in the area. Much of the flora of the Nallamalai hills is being destroyed, even before they are recorded.
The degradation of the forest, combined with the semi-arid climate of the region, has adversely affected the sanctuary. The Krishna, which was fordable prior to the construction of the Nagarjunasagar and Srisailam dams, has now become a barrier, which the animals cannot cross. A significant part of the sanctuary towards the northeast is fragmented by man-made water bodies into small, degraded habitats. These areas have to be protected to provide wildlife room to migrate when necessary, and also to act as a buffer against biotic pressures. But the buffer itself has been so over-exploited that biotic pressures are now degrading the core area.
The evolving demographic profile of the towns and villages surrounding the forest indicate the changes and pressures. The population, both resident and floating, has increased several folds. Most people, though classified as dependent on agriculture, are employed in farming only during the monsoon season.
At other times they depend on the forest to make a living - by collecting and selling firewood or non-timber forest produce, and in some cases, smuggling out timber. Several sawmills have come up close to the reserve. The Nallamalai hills provide fodder for thousands of cattle and local people often graze their cattle in the forest depriving wildlife access to these resources.
Air: The nearest airport is
150-km from the sanctuary.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Hyderabad from the sanctuary.
Road: The nearest town to this sanctuary is Macherla, which is 29-km away from the sanctuary. The sanctuary is also well connected by state owned buses.
Tourists can find good accommodation in the guesthouses and cottages located near the temples within the sanctuary.
The climate is hot and arid, the hottest months being March-June with a maximum temperature of 42°C. and a minimum temperature is 12°C. Rains are brought about by the southwest monsoon, which prevails from June to October. Annual rainfall is 590-760mm, though some parts receive up to 1500mm.
Contact: Field Director, Project Tiger, Srisailam Dam East, Andhra Pradesh - 512102