WCS congratulates the Indian government for expanding protected areas in the wildlife-rich Western Ghats region to safeguard populations of endangered lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus), critically endangered Kolar leaf-nosed bats (Hipposideros hypophyllus), and other species.

The announcement was made by the Karnataka Government’s Forest Ecology & Environment Department.

The expansion includes the creation of the Sharavathi Valley Lion Tailed Macaque Sanctuary which spans some 359 square miles (930.2 square kilometer) and is adjacent to the already existing Aghanashini Lion Tailed Macaque conservation reserve. The new sanctuary safeguards not only macaques, but also great Indian hornbills as well as important evergreen forests, amphibian-rich freshwater swamp forests, and wildlife corridors that allow species to freely move between habitats. In addition, the newly protected lands are important for tigers, both for breeding and to serve as a dispersal corridor.

Further south, the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary has an added an area of 6 square miles (15.7) square miles to the Muneshwara Reserve Forest. And in Mulubagilu taluk, the formation of the 92-acre Kolar Leaf-nosed Bat Conservation Reserve will ensure better protection of the leaf-nosed bat and other species. All of the expansions ensure that people inhabiting these areas are unaffected.

Said WCS India Country Director Prakriti Srivastava: “This is a very big step towards the conservation of the Western Ghats and will go a long way in preserving critical habitat and wildlife. The credit goes entirely to the government for recognizing the need and taking this action.”

Srivastava added: “At a time when studies have been warning of the rapid decline of wildlife due to fragmentation of habitats and other pressures, with its repercussions on the ecosystems, it is imperative that we protect our last patches of wilderness and the wildlife they shelter. Towards this, the notification from the government will provide a big boost for conservation efforts in the state.”