The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified on 07-01-2016 an extent of 4.83 km covering 14 villages around the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Khanapur taluk of Belagavi district as ecologically sensitive zone (ESZ). As per the draft notification, the ESZ spreads over 308.22 sq. km around the boundary of the sanctuary.
Chikale, Gavase, Chapoli, Kabanalli, Kongala, Nerse, Shiroli, Dongargoan and Warkadpate have been brought under the ESZ, while Parwad, Kankumbi, Amgaon, Gawali and Pastoli have been partially included in it.
Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 190.42 square kilometres in the catchment of Mahadayi River in Khanapur taluka of Belgaum district in Karnataka. It shares boundary with Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka and Mhadei and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuaries in Goa. The sanctuary has been carved out of reserve forest areas with high floral and faunal diversity.
Western Ghats, due to their unique location, play a vital role for conservation of biodiversity in the peninsula. The ecological abundance supported by them, their rich biodiversity and sensitive geomorphology add further uniqueness. Bhimgad region has extensive biodiversity and provides corridor for tiger and other wildlife with adjacent protected areas.
The area of Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary is in the core zone of Western Ghats comprising of semi evergreen and evergreen dense forests with steep slopes. The region is having rich floral and faunal diversity. This region is having lot of wildlife significance. It is habitat for endangered and endemic wroughton’s free tailed bats (Otomopswroughtoni) and Theobald’s tomb bats (Taphozustheobaldi). Barapede caves are known to be the only roosting and breeding place for wroughton’s free tailed bats. The forests with beautiful mosaic of woodlands and grass lands are the habitat for Tigers, Leopards, Indian Gaur (Bisons), Sloth Bear, Sambar, Barking deer, Chital, Wild dogs, King Cobra and a variety of other mammals and reptiles.
Area of Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary is the place of origin and Catchment basin for many important rivers like Mahadayi, Malaprabha, Pandri, Markandeya, Tillari, Bailnadi and other rivers apart from number of streams. The area encompasses several geomorphological lime stone formations with lot of caves, which support wide fauna and flora endemic to this location. Apart from above, the sanctuary covers historical Bhimgad fort ruins, which needs to be protected.
Bhimgad Wild Life Sanctuary is a rich reservoir of medicinal plants. One such area in semi evergreen forests of Amagoan has been identified for Medicinal Plants conservation area (MPCA) during 2010-11. Out of the recorded species, about 82% of the plants are found to be of medicinal value.
Around 47% of the recorded plant species are trees, followed by shrubs (28%) and herbs (18%). The area is also home to several endemic plant species such as Ancistrocladusheyneanus, Diospyrospaniculata, Euonymus indicus, Myristicaarborea, etc., several among the recorded medicinal plants such as Aristolochiatagala, Diospyrosmontana, Emblicaofficinalis, Garciniaindica, Nothapodytesnimmoniana etc., are with high medicinal and economic value.
Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary has a very good population of avifauna which includes Great Indian hornbills and variety of Drongos, Wagtails, wood peckers, Kingfishers, Eagles, egrets, Sunbirds, owls and doves. Grey Jungle fowl, Jungle myna, crow pheasants, paradise fly catcher, Malabar drongo etc., are also commonly seen in the region. Hence it is necessary to conserve and protect the area the extent and boundary of which are specified in paragraph 1 of this notification around the protected area of Bhimgad Bird Sanctuary as Ecosensitive Zone from ecological and environmental point of view and to prohibit industries or class of industries and their operations and processes in the said Eco-sensitive Zone.
After this notification Commercial mining, stone quarrying and crushing units, Setting up of saw mills, Commercial use of firewood, Establishment of new major hydroelectric projects and irrigation projects, New wood based industry will be totally banned.
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