Additional Articles on Wildlife

1.Management Of Buffer Zone

What Is A Buffer Zone?

A Buffer Zone is the part that lies between the human settlements and the core area to provide a cushion as well as protection to the core area. It protects the high wildlife density which is in the core. The core area in many reserves is declared as a National Park. The core area and the buffer zone collectively make up a wildlife sanctuary, while National Parks don't have any buffer area.

How To manage A Buffer Zone?

In a buffer zone, there are more domestic cattle as compared to the core area because there are more human settlements outside the core than inside the core(Ideally there should be no cattle in the core area. Human settlements should also not be located in the Core Area as that is one of the only places which should be free from all human disturbances). There should be a redline marked in the buffer zone before which only the domestic cattle graze and don't cross their part and the management must ensure that the other side of the red line should not be crossed by the wild animals. They can do this by ensuring tall trees planted towards the end of Buffer-1 and at the starting of the Buffer-2(see fig. below for understanding more clearly). Those trees will block the sunlight and the undergrowth of that tiny patch won't develop. This would not attract large populations of herbivores as they cannot eat the leaves of very large trees because of which, the carnivores will not come here in large numbers. This will reduce carnivores killing domestic livestock which won't cause any conflict between the locals and the forest department. Also, because of this, the buffer will have a large arboreal bird population. There will also be a high presence of other arboreal creatures like monkeys and Langurs. The only problem with this is that when the seeds are planted, herbivores won't allow them to mature, so there should be an arrangement in the core because of which all the prey is attracted their itself, it is fine even if it is a temporary arrangement(10-15 years). In a span of ten to fifteen years, those trees will mature and as stated before, they will become an asset and the Wildlife Sanctuary will blossom forever.

Large water bodies should be mainly maintained in the core area. Towards Buffer-1, there should not be many lakes and thus, it is very important to decide the buffer zone of a place intelligently but the presence of three to four lakes is adequate in a buffer zone of about 200 sq. km. All salt licks should also be provided only in the core. These measures will help in discouraging the wild animals to cross the core itself and even if they venture into buffer-1, they will never go to Buffer-2.

Tourism should be restricted to the Buffer Zone. At present, 20% of the core area is used for tourism. It is granted by the Supreme Court. For best results in Wildlife Conservation, only Buffer-1 should be used for safari and the hotels should be placed outside the sanctuary.

Purple area denotes the area where high trees should be planted. The redline is the marking that separates Buffer-1 from Buffer-2. The blue line denotes the present status of safari tracks (they go in the core area). The brown line denotes how safari tracks should be designed(restricted to the Buffer Zone). Good Photography and Wildlife sighting can also be done in Buffer-1. With this method, the wildlife can be managed excellently with accord to tourism. The tourists will also see the high tree plantations with many special and rare arboreal birds and mammals. It will be a very diverse trip. In Buffer-1, they should be able to see everything like water bodies, watchtowers, grasslands, and tree groves. Then there will be no need for tourism expand their range inside the Core Area and disturb the animals in their supreme environment.

The Buffer should be at max half the size of the core and a minimum 1/3rd the size of the core to successfully fill up its important requirements. Without a buffer, the core has no value and the entire core will become a buffer zone where animals can't live. It will become like a joke, where villagers are making their cattle graze and poaching will also take place very easily.

Management Of Buffer Zone-2

Buffer-2 should be further divided into A Part and B Part. The A Part should be used only for grass cutting. It means that only the herders cut the fodder their cattle require. This is the best way as no large herds will come grazing towards Buffer-1. Still, some communities don't want to do the tiring work of grass cutting, so for them, Part B of Buffer-2 should be made, beyond which no cattle should be allowed.

Rotational Grazing

Buffer-2 B Part is where the grazing should be restricted only. There will be numerous villages. The Sariska Tiger Reserve in India has over 300 villages in and around the buffer zone! Proper management in this case also can be done. Each village should have at least 2 enclosures whose size is based on the number of cattle in the area. Some villages who are in the cattle profession as the Gujjars and the Maldharis, they should have 4-6 enclosures with each having a size of 30-50 hectares. The cattle should be allowed to graze in a very systematic manner. Cattle should be allowed to graze the enclosure 1 for 1 unit of time(depends on the number of cattle but ideally the time is 1 year) and then should be shifted to enclosure 2. This will allow the enclosure to regenerate the cattle fodder it has lost. When 1 enclosure is regenerating its resources back, it is under a stage known as the 'regenerating phase'. In the regenerating phase, the enclosure should be provided with manure and also leguminous plants should be planted. No fertilizers should be added because it is a grazing area and not a farm. This will ensure better cattle health only. The watering and manuring work should be practiced by the herders itself but should be supervised by the forest department. At times, the grass seed which falls from the grass is eaten up by the cattle, so it should also be looked upon that the seed is available currently present and is germinating or not.

Stone Walls that should be used for preventing cattle crossing.