Forest Development Agency, Sulthan Bathery is registered as part of participatory forest management in 2002. 15 Eco Development Committees (EDC) are registered under Sulthan Bathery FDA. Participatory forest management intends to manage forests; non-timber forest produces in a sustainable manner with the active participation of forest dependent communities ensuring their livelihood needs. The activities of EDC’s under this FDA are limited with forest protection and management activities, implementation of works under ecotourism centers and honey processing units. Collection of non-timber forest produces and its value addition products are being implemented soon. Muthanga and Tholpetty EDCs are associated with wildlife safari in the respective areas. The safari is operated through jeeps in both areas. Nature camps for school/college students, invasive plants eradication, distribution of education supportive measures, medical camps and zero pending compensation claims are most important highlighting activities took place under this sanctuary.
Wayanad is the district in Kerala where the highest number of the tribal population inhabits. Various livelihood options are implemented by Sulthan Bathery FDA for the overall development of tribal communities as well as other forest-dependent communities. The initiative towards uplifting tribal communities began with understanding the need of their own involvement in the process. The prevalent social and economic structure had forced a majority of its members to resort to fishing, poaching, and illegal wood-cutting as a source of income. Concerted efforts were thus made to ensure that their dependency on the forest would reduce as only such a shift in lifestyle would discourage the illegal activities and more financial avenues could be opened up for their benefit. Eco-development committees are registered under Sulthan Bathery Forest Development Agency for the conservation of forests and its resources by ensuring the livelihood security of forest-dependent communities. Education promotion activities such as training for public competitive exams, continuing education and 10th equivalency exam is carryon at Muthanga EDC under Muthanga Range, Pilakkavu EDC under Sulthan Bathery Range and Poovanchi EDC under Kurichiat Range. Training is offered by the staff of Department of Forest.
Ecotourism activities under Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary comprise mainly jeep safari for exploring facts of nature and wild animals, solely for those who are interested and curious about knowing more about nature. The entry into the forest area is environmentally responsible travel in order to enjoy and gain new knowledge from nature. Each trip promotes the importance of conservation, a low visitor impact and provides for the beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local people. Moreover, ecotourism provides a practical livelihood alternative for the economic development of local communities along with other income-generation options. Besides, ecotourism increase the level of education and activism among travelers including students, making them more enthusiastic and effective agents of conservation. The main eco-tourism points in the sanctuary are Muthanga and Tholpetty. Vehicle safari is the main tourism activity conducting here. The visitors are managed through the Eco Development Committees. Each team of visitors will be guided by an EDC member for explaining about the sanctuary and also to see that the visitors are following the designated route and not doing any illegal activities inside the sanctuary.
Muthanga and Tholpetty are the two eco-tourism centers in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. These eco-tourism spots provide haunting wilderness experience through frequent sightings of elephant, gaur, deer, monkey, tiger, leopard, bear and many species of reptiles, fishes, butterflies and birds including vultures. Eco-tourism is indeed more helpful method for creating deep sentient conservation inkling in the minds of visitors. Ecotourism provides a core source of livelihood income for homegrown tribes.
In the Eco-tourism centers, the preponderate visitors are students and they are unacquainted of the forests and wildlife. The visitors enter into tourism spots with a bare mind. Before entering into the sanctuary area, they need to have an idea regarding the endemic and rare species in the sanctuary. Interpretation centers provide ecological awareness to the visitors. Nature interpretation center and vehicle safari are easy methods to observe the nature and to generate awareness about the ecological values. At present, Muthanga Eco-Tourism center has the facility of interpretation center. The wildlife sanctuary is not just a visiting place. Eco-tourism is intended as an eco-learning center for the visitors.
Wild Gold is the popular pure wild honey that is collected from the sanctuary area by the tribal communities. Considered among the finest in the world, it is marketed under the name ‘Wild Gold’ and is processed through the Eco Development Committees. These can be availed in two varieties (Giant Bee honey and Earth Bee honey) at Eco shops at Muthanga, Ponkuzhi, Tholpetty and Begur.
|Sl. No.||Giant Bee Honey||Earth Bee Honey|
|Quantity (gm)||Amount (Rs)||Quantity (gm)||Amount (Rs)|
|1||500||400 /-||500||500 /-|
|2||250||200 /-||250||250 /-|
In the wake of increasing incidents of wild elephants straying into human settlements in forest fringe areas, Kerala government has set up eight Rapid Response Teams (to undertake urgent steps to check the menace). Elephant squad is constituted here at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Besides this, a slew of measures such as solar fence, trenches and anti-elephant walls have also been put in place as part of programmes to counter the threat from wild elephants.
The Forest and Wildlife Department has launched an innovative early warning system (EWS) in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) to reduce wildlife encounter. When elephants are found in an area, the informant group, including forest watchers and trained local residents, would inform the SMS alert centre of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) office at Sulthan Bathery. The 24-hour functioning centre would send alert messages and voice calls to people living in the vicinity. Elephant presence is also communicated through an LED display board installed at four locations.
Elephant camp at Muthanga in the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary is abuzz with elephants’ jovial screams. It is located in Muthanga Range. This elephant camp was established more than 100 years before. This elephant camp is having seven elephants at present. Two among this seven elephants vise; Kallur Komban and Aaralam Komban are mainly used in mitigating Human- Wild animal conflicts. Kallur Komban is trained well, ready to come out of his Krall and leave to semi wildlife condition. Besides this, two elephant calves are also there one male (Chandu) and one female (Ammu). Three elephants’ services Pramukha, Kunchu and Suryan) are availing as Kumki for vivid operations like radio-coloring and capturing of problematic elephants. For patrolling like elephant scaring, service of Pramukha and Kunchu are availing. At present, Suryan is participating three months Kumki training at Muthumalai.
The captured elephants are trained in operations such as managing marauding elephants, including arresting and leading such elephants during an operation; assisting in kraal making; boarding and alighting a forest ambulance; and parading. They are also provided wild area exposure and training in tackling wild elephants. The other Kumki elephants under the department are Pramugha and Kunju of the Muthanga elephant camp.
The breeding season of vultures is from October to April. They make nests during the months of September- October and lays egg by November- December. A female vulture lays only one egg a year. The chick usually remains in the nest until it’s completely ready for flight and leaves the nest by March- April. A total of 11 vulture nests were identified in Wayanad WLS during 2015-16. All of them were of a single species- Oriental white backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis). Vultures usually nest in loose colonies. These 11 nest were seen in 3 different locations. A total of 8 nests of Oriental white backed vulture were identified in the sanctuary in 2016-17 and 3 nests of white backed vulture and one nest of Red headed vulture were identified in 2017-18. The nesting of Red headed vulture is for the first time in the sanctuary. These nests were given special care to protect them from all sorts of natuarl and anthrapogenic disturbances.
The Vulture nest will be identified in every decemeber when the vultures start building the nest. Fire protection path will make around the nesting tree to protect the nest from forest fire. Vulture nest monitoring watechers will be deployed in each nesting colonies. Most of the nests are seen in Dalbergia latifolia and Adina cordifolia. The nest will be monitored in every week. Tree species, habitat type, GPS location and all the data related to the nesting will be noted.
Wildlife education and nature awareness programs were the subjects stressed ever since the sanctuary is established. Nature camps were conducted to students from different parts of the state every year at Muthanga and Tholpetty ranges during past many years. As the number of requests increased, nature camps were also begun at Sulthan Bathery and Kurichiat ranges. The main objective of such camp is to build awareness among the young generation in conserving forests and wildlife. In addition to such camps, awareness programs were also conducted among the people residing in the enclosures within the sanctuary as well as in the fringes for protecting forests and wildlife. Selected staffs are also leading awareness programs in schools situated in adjoining areas of the sanctuary.
Nature camps conduct every year during the period from October to January. The awareness camps include nature awareness classes, trekking in forest area; slide show/film shows etc. As per the guidelines, the camps vary from one day to three day camps. Though 200 to 300 applications receive every year for the camps, on an average, 50 to 75 camps were conducted every year depending on the availability of funds. Priority is being given to applications from Wayanad and adjoining districts. In addition to the expert staffs, teachers and other individuals involved in nature conservation are also leading the classes in these camps.
The PA is situated on the eastern parts of the district which are generally highly sensitive to fire incidences. As the nature camps are generally extends up to mid January and staffs are engaged in fire prevention/ protection works up to the onset of monsoon, paid camps are not conducted regularly in this PA.
(Application forms can be downloaded from the official website of Kerala forest and wildlife department. http://www.forest.kerala.gov.in/ )
Training of staff for improving their capacity on legal aspects, investigation of offences, visitor management, ecotourism, nature conservation, use of arms, equipments such as GPS, computers, PDA etc. are important in the protection and management of the PA. There should be a regular in-service training to the staff like that of in-service training to officials.
The monitoring of tigers is done by deploying the camera traps uniformly throughout the sanctuary. In order to satisfy this, the whole area is divided in to 345 blocks of dimensions 1km x 1km. At least one camera trap will be installed in each of these 345 blocks. At present there is a total number of 63 camera traps in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary of which 12 numbers are already deployed in the field for protection activities. The already deployed camera traps are set for monitoring the illegal activities carried out on the highways passing through the sanctuary in the backlight of the recent incident of Elephant killing.
The Vulture nest identifies in every decemeber when the vultures start building the nest. Fire protection path will make around the nesting tree to protect the nest from forest fire. Vulture nest monitoring watechers will be deployed in each nesting colonies. Most of the nests are seen in Dalbergia latifolia and Adina cordifolia. The nest will be monitored in every week. Tree species, habitat type, GPS location and all the data related to the nesting will be noted.
School dropout rate is high among the tribal communities who reside in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Various educational as well as employment promotion activities have been conducting through EDCs under Sulthan Bathery FDA. Competitive exam orientation for employment seekers group and group learning activity for school students are the foremost programs introduced by Sulthan Bathery FDA exclusively for tribal communities. All these programs have been implemented with the support of EDC secretaries, Presidents, Executive Committee members and Oorumithra. Oorumithra acts as the bridge between tribal communities, who inhabit in the forest area and the forest department. A total of 50 Oorumithra officials are here in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Community welfare programs usually implement under the leadership of Oorumithra along with the concerned EDC secretaries.
Two Eco Shops at Muthanga and Tholpetty, two honey processing units cum sales counters at Ponkuzhi and Begur one sales counter at Kuppady locate under Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Pure honey collects from the sanctuary area by tribal people and they sell it through Muthanga and Tholpetty honey collection and processing units. Filtering and bottling of collected honey is taking place through these honey processing units. Honey under the brand name of "Wild Gold" is available from our eco shops.
|Sl. No.||Product Name||Price|
|1||Earth Bee Honey 500 gm||500/-|
|2||Earth Bee Honey 250 gm||250/-|
|3||Giant Bee Honey 500 gm||400/-|
|4||Giant Bee Honey 250 gm||200/-|
|5||Tea Powder 500 gm||120/-|
|11||Keralathile Vanyajeevi Sanketham||70/-|
|17||Malabar Ornithologival Survey 2010-2011||200/-|
|21||Keralathile Vanangal- Bhagam-1||70/-|
|22||Keralathile Vanangal- Bhagam-2||90/-|
|23||Keralathile Vanangal- Bhagam-3||210/-|
|24||Kerala Sandal Trio Classic (Family Pack of 3 Soap)||165/-|
|25||Vep (Family Pack)||130/-|
|26||Kerala Sandal (Family Pack)||130/-|
|27||Thrill Exotic (Family Pack)||130/-|
|34||Kerala Sandal (150 gm)||56/-|
|35||Kerala Sandal (75 gm)||29/-|
|36||Kairali Lovely Pink||20/-|
|40||Rubber Key Chain||45/-|
|41||Lantana Key Stand||350/-|
The Veterinary laboratory available in the PA was made in to Centre for Wildlife Research and Forensics. In addition to the routine systematic post-mortem and chemical immobilization and treatment of wild animals, this laboratory is carrying out molecular disease diagnosis. In the recent past, many major emerging diseases including presence of herpes virus were identified in the wildlife particularly in the free ranging Asian elephant population. Following activities can be initiated apart from the ongoing regular veterinary activities in the sanctuary. The laboratory is set up with certain objectives such as scientific laboratory investigation of wildlife crime materials for the identification of species and other necessary information like age, sex, etc and find evidences for linking the crime suspected, submission of reports to the necessary judicial or investigation agency within a stipulated time, acts as a data bank for future forensic investigations, identifying wildlife disease emergence within captive and free ranging wildlife, developing it as a center for wildlife genetic population estimation (DNA based population estimation), training field staff and veterinarians involving in wildlife crime investigation.
Socio-economic survey of tribal communities who reside in the sanctuary is conducted in 2018 to analyze the present socio-economic condition of tribal communities. Data collection has been done by 'Oorumithra' who act as the bridge between tribal people and the department. The survey started on 17th September 2018 and ended on 25th October 2018. Analysis of survey is completed on 31st October 2018. The aim to conduct a socio-economic survey was to strengthen Oorumithra activities in the Sanctuary and to explore the present status of tribal population residing in the sanctuary area.Population of tribal communities as per the socio-economic survey is given below.
|Sl. No.||Community||Male||Female||Children||60+ Male||60+ Female||Total Population||Total Family|
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary has been organized a district wide vulture survey in January, 2019 with the participation of local NGOs, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Pookkode, College of Forestry and Vellanikkara. Four species of Vultures; they are the White Rumped vulture, red headed vulture, Himalayan Griffon and Indian Vulture has been recorded in the survey. Nesting of White Rumped vulture has been identified from Sulthan Bathery and Kurichiat Ranges. A population of 80 White Rumped vultures and 15 red headed Vultures has been recorded. The sighting of Indian Vulture is happening after five years.