The glory that is Satpura-Maikal landscape
Central India is considered by many as the heart of India’s wildlife. It is home to some of India’s largest forest tracts, rich wildlife as well as a myriad of indigenous people who have been living in the forests here since time immemorial.
Located to the south of Vindhya hill range, the region includes the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, parts of eastern Maharashtra as well as some parts of northern Andhra Pradesh. The forests here are categorized as Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests under the Indo-Malayan Realm. Due to the availability of plenty of minerals and increased efforts to exploit them, the region might see more serious conflicts of ‘Development’ versus locals and wildlife in future.
Central Indian Satpura Maikal Landscape (SML) is the region surrounding Satpura in west and Maikal hill ranges in east. It is spread across 14 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Maharashtra, over an area of 1,18,867 sq km 34% or 39,875 sq km of this is under forest cover, which is roughly the size of the Netherlands!
The major carnivores here are the tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), leopard(Panthera pardus) and sloth bear (Melursus ursinus). This region is famous for the hard ground barasingha (Cervus duvacelli).The herbivores are represented by gaur (Bos gaurus), sambar (Cervus unicolor), cheetal (Axis axis) and barking deer (Muntiacus muntjac). Other common faunal species are wild pig (Sus scrofa), jackal (Canis aureus) and common langur (Presbytis entellus). The area also supports rich avifauna. The region is a part of the dispersal bridge which connects the Eastern Himalayas with the Western Ghats (Hora, 1949). These are some of the most productive habitats for tiger and its prey species in the Indian subcontinent.
SML has in it many of India’s best known protected forests. Many of the PAs here have been synonymous with the tiger. Put together, around 17% of the world’s tigers * are found in the landscape. Two major corridors in the landscape Kanha – Achanakmar and Kanha – Pench are currently the focus of WWF-India’s intensive efforts to strengthen tiger conservation, sustainable livelihood as well as nature education. Any improvement of the habitats here would not only benefit the tiger and its prey, but more importantly will directly help the millions of humans who depend on these forests as a water as well as for non-timber forest produce (NTFP) and traditional medicines among others