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Melghat Tiger Reserve (1973-74 To 2007-08)

The Government of India in consultation with the State Government and in accordance with the recommendations of the Task Force appointed on the matter of Tiger Conservation, by the Indian Board of Wildlife established nine Tiger reserve in the first phase in the country during the year 1973-74. Melghat Tiger Reserve was one of these Nine Tiger Reserve and came in to being on 22.2.1974 initially over an area of 1571.74 Sq. K.m. This was the first Tiger Reserve to be declared in the State of Maharashtra, which subsequently get expanded to 2029.04 Sq. Km. The Melghat nestling in the Satpuda hill ranges of Forsythls and Dunbar’s Central India with vast tracts of inviolate natural forests consisting of unique and representative ecosystems with rich Bio-diversity and varied habitats offered by deep valleys (locally known as Khoras) and high hills (locally known as Ballas), daunted with rivers and nallahs having water all the year round in the “Doh” was the natural choice for the community of foresters in Maharashtra, when it came to choose an area for preserving it for posterity and for ensuring that the ‘Tiger’ the most magnificent and royal of the wild species, could sustain a viable population and survive for the eternity. The Management plan for Melghat Tiger Reserve has been sanctioned by the Government for the period 2004-05 to 2013-14. The working in Melghat Tiger Reserve is being carried out as per the sanctioned Management plan.

Location

Situated in the Satpura hill ranges of Central India, Melghat Tiger Reserve lies in Melghat Forests of Amravati district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra bordering Madhya Pradesh in the North and East. Its area is geographically located as given below.

Longitude: 760 571 E to 770 301 E
Latitude: 210 151 N to 210 451 N
Altitude: 312 M to 1178 M above MSL.

ADMINISTRATIVE AREA

The entire area of M.T.R. is administratively Controlled by Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Project Tiger Melghat, Amravati. The area of M.T.R. is divided in to three Wildlife divisions having headquarter at Paratwada and Akot. The buffer area of Wan, Ambabarwa and Narnala Sanctuaries and part of Melghat Sanctuary and Gugamal National Park managed by Dy.C.F. Akot and is under the control of Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Melghat Tiger Reserve. The details of division wise area is given below.

Name of Division Area In Sq.Km. Ranges Rounds Beat
Sipna W.L.Division, Paratwada 839.09 Sq.Km. 5 31 96
Gugamal W.L.Division, Paratwada 639.93 Sq.Km. 3 17 64
Akot W.L.Division, Akot 550.02 Sq.Km. 4 20 68
Total 2029.04 Sq.Km. 12 68 220

VARIOUS NOTIFICATIONS ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT Of MAHARASHTRA (GOM) IN RESPECT OF AREA OF MTR

· GOM Revenue and Forest Department Notification No WLP 1978/10553(a) F-5 Dated 5th September 1985 regarding Melghat sanctuary.
· GOM Revenue and Forest Department Notification No. WLP 1086/1806/F-5 Dated 27/11/1987 regarding Gugamal National Parke.
· GOM Revenue and Forest Department Notification No. WLP 1992/526/F-5 Dated 15/2/1994 Modified resolution regarding Melghat Sanctuary.
· GOM Revenue and forest Department Notification no. WLP 10-2000/ CR-41/F-1 Dated 6-11-2000 regarding Final Notification of Melghat Sanctuary.
· GOM Revenue and Forest Department Notification No. WLP 1098/CR-135/F-2/ Dated 8/8/2000 Final notification on Gugamal Notification Parke.

GoM Revenue and Forest Department Notification No. WLP 10-07/CR.297/F-1 Dated 27/12/2007 declaring the Area of Ambabarwa, Wan, Narnala Melghat Sanctuary & Gugamal National Park as Critical Tiger Habitat (Core)
GoM Revenue and Forest Department Notification No. WLP 10-10/CR.139/F-1 Dated 29/09/2010 declaring the Buffer of above Core.

Division wise area of the Reserve

Directorate of Melghat Tiger Reserve controls, for administration and technical purposes, 3 Forest Divisions.

Core & Buffer Zone of Melghat Tiger Reserve

Core (Area In Hectares) Buffer(Area In Hectares)
Division Forest Non-forest Total Forest Non-forest Total Grand Total
Sipna WL* 47465.02 942.58 48407.6 31879.96 3622.14 35502.1 83909.7
Gugamal WL* 65545.46 1050.24 66595.7 15261.13 2092.96 17354.09 83949.79
Akot WL* 34293.92 753.27 35047.19 0 0 0 35047.19
West Melghat 0 0 0 22046.62 2337.46 24384.08 24384.08
East Melghat 0 0 0 17508.85 4807.98 22316.83 22316.83
Akola 0 0 0 1932.43 15967.48 17899.91 17899.91
Buldhana 0 0 0 3436.5 5910.16 9346.66 9346.66
Grand Total 147304.0 2746.09 150050.49 92065.49 34738.18 126803.67 276854.16
* Marked areas are under administrative control of the Melghat Tiger Project Directorate.

NO VILLAGES IN CORE
The core area of Gugamal National Park, has no villages inside and is completely free from all kind of human interferences. As a result this area has become a true representative of a ‘nature reserve’ where nature is at its best. Unlike other Reserves, an entry of outsider is strictly restricted. Contiguity of forests provides great importance to this area for the long-term conservation goals at landscape level. The remaining core of MTR was containing 31 villages which have to be relocated as per the policy of the Central & State Government under the provision of section 38 (V) of WL (prot.) Act 1972.Out of these ;8 villages have already bean relocated till 2011.
The buffer area of MTR contains 118 villages out of which 39 villages are under the jurisdiction of MTR. Remaining are under the jurisdiction of East Melghat ,West Melghat ,Akola & Buldhana four Division respectively.

Map of Melghat Tiger Reserve

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People of Melghat Tiger Reserve

Inhabitants of Melghat are predominantly scheduled tribes. These include ‘Korku’, ‘Gond’ and ‘Nihal’. ‘Balai’ is a major constituent in the category of scheduled castes. A race designated as ‘Gaolan’ belongs to backward class. The remaining population is made up of ‘Gaoli’ and others. It is seen that majority of the villagers residing within the MTR are Korkus and percentage of Gonds, Balais, Gaolis is limited.

Gaoli

Gaolis are traditionally occupied with cattle rearing and don’t contribute much towards labour requirements for forest protection or other activities. They are also not much interested in agriculture. They have large herds of cattle, usually 20 to 40 animals per family. They rear the buffaloes in large numbers. Selling of milk products as also farmyard manure is the main source of income. Gaolis are intelligent; they have simple habits and are very hardy.

Korku, Gond and Nihal

Traditionally Korkus had been drawing their sustenance mainly by engaging themselves in forest produce harvesting works for a period of almost one century. They have provided labour force for all the forest conservation and development works. They have acquired skills required for harvesting forest products and used to be employed earlier for processing of forest produce to market. For them, agriculture used to be a supplementary activity. Only after 1973, the villagers acquired permanent rights on the land in their villages and have been since pursuing agriculture practices. Their land holdings are limited and majority of them hold hardly 5 acres or so per family. They do not have inclinations for dairy development. Korku’s and Gond’s needs for the forest produce for bonafide use have been recognised and thus concession to collect the same from the forest areas are being honoured. Korkus do indulge occasionally in trapping of jungle fowls, peacocks and they occasionally indulge in even killing of herbivore like Chitals and Sambars through dogs, traps and poisoning of waterholes. Fishing, legal or illegal in one of their main passions. As compared to Korkus, Gonds are less compatible with forest eco-system as they do indulge on a higher scale in poaching. They may even resort to killing of Gaurs. Nihals are akin to Korkus, but are known to eat meat of dead animals also found inside the forests. They are placed at a lower rung in the social hierarchy.

Balai, Gaolan and Rathya

Balai, who are settled in the villages, located in the Sanctuary have been following agricultural practices, though traditionally they used to scavenge in the villages. The group Gaolan is considered socially higher as compared to these scheduled castes and has been traditionally following agriculture. For construction of meter gauge line, connecting Khandwa and Akola, labour force of a community was obtained from outside. After completion of the railway line, many of these, have now settled down in certain areas. These people are locally known as ‘Rathyas’. They are hard working and aggressive nomads from central provinces. They have dominated the local inhabitants in some areas completely.

Melghat Tiger Conservation Foundation Maharashtra

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