Mansingh Deo (Maharashtra): After two decades of advocating, Mansingh-Deo Wildlife Sanctuary has finally been notified by the Maharashtra government, securing 183 sq km of critical tiger landscape connectivity between forests in Central India. The notification makes Mansingh Deo the 42nd protected area in the state, and provides crucial buffer to Pench NP.
The notification was first suggested by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in the late 1980s. Subsequently, in 1993, a three-year study culminated in a formal proposal for the creation of Mansingh Deo WLS over an area of 180-200 sq km.
However, despite requests from the Forest Department for a protected area status for the entire belt, the notification was stalled as these forests had been handed over to the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra. The government sought a compromise considering three non-contiguous blocks including 50 sq km of the initially proposed area.
“Later still, the government proposed excluding block I, which was the only remnant of the initial area proposed. This block provides connectivity to Pench-Parchmarhi forests in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, and its exclusion was not acceptable,” said Prafulla Bhamburkar, Manager, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).In July 2010, Dr MK Ranjitsinh, Chairman, WTI, wrote to the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, apprising him of the situation and seeking his intervention. The Minister urged Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to follow Dr Ranjitsinh’s suggestions for the way forward and look into the matter of notification of Mansingh-Deo on an urgent basis.
The notification finally came through on November 2 including 183 sq km covering the three non-contiguous blocks.
“We are thrilled at this development; this secures the habitat for about 8-10 tigers that live within the sanctuary, and equally significantly benefits many more of them as well as other wildlife. However, there is still about 70 sq km area towards the west of Pench NP adjoining block I that is crucial; this is a part of the area first proposed for notification in 1993,” added Bhamburkar, who initiated and carried out the three-year study.