This tiger reserve spreads over 3,568 sq.kms and it came under the umbrella of Project Tiger in 1983. The forests are mainly southern tropical dry mixed deciduous forests. In 1983 there were 40 tigers and the habitat suffered severely due to high frequency of poaching, grazing, fires, tree and bamboo exploitation. Improvements in water resources, check dams, artificial troughs, new fire lines, salt licks and better protection has helped the Park and in 1989 the tiger numbers were put at 94 an increase of 130% in 6 years. The reality today will be known after the 1993 census as no counting of tigers was possible in the last few years due to extremist interference in the Project Area. The core area of this reserve is 1,200 sq. kms.
The presence of armed extremists in this forest is a serious problem to the effective management of this area and the tigers. The subordinate staff are scared to move freely in the interior and little communication exists. The forest is an oasis for five surrounding districts and meets their demand for timber and fuel. The smugglers operate in the interior areas and move timber to the plains.
There is a considerable grazing pressure on the fringe areas, that also effects the core. If not contained this pressure can make serious inroads into the core.
The core has 26 tribal villages with 1,500 people. One village has been relocated in 10 years. Efforts to relocate other villagers is on but it is felt that these Chenchu tribals could also co-exist with the natural system since their needs are basic and simple. In this situation it is better to work with the people to protect the forest. There is a village on the Srisailam highway that is expanding into agriculture, and serious attention should be given to its relocation in the future, before major encroachments are made into the forest.
Attacks by tigers on cattle and man are a problem that require solutions, and it all concerns the pressures on this natural resource.
Administratively this Project Tiger circle has staff drawn from 5 adjoining districts and under prevailing rules they have to be posted in the area of their districts. If management strategies are to be strengthened all the buffer area must be in the control of the field director. Only then can there be effective management of the area.
Low herbivore populations and the question of cattle lifting by tigers needs to be researched, and a detailed analysis of the prey base essential.
The future plans of the Park management include :
Unless extremist activity is brought under control, serious management and research in this the largest Project-Tiger reserve will suffer tremendously. So far no research project has taken place and without serious information the problems will not find solutions. The forest staff face serious obstacles due to the presence of extremists in the day to day management of the area and it is to their credit that they have managed to shoulder their work with courage.