Airport may scare off Indian wolves

Forest areas in and around Purandar taluka, the site for the Pune international airport, are also home to Indian Grey wolves.

Wildlife experts are worried that the airport will have an adverse effect on their habitat. A detailed report mentioning four specific Purandar-based locations that would affect the wolf population will be submitted to the state government with a request to turn these spots into wildlife protection zones.

Mihir Godbole, a Pune-based wildlife enthusiast, who has been working on and off with the forest department towards the conservation of the wolf population in the area, said the state government must look into the matter and take steps to ensure that the animals are not affected.

Once the ground survey starts, several committees will be formed by the state government to look into various issues which will also include the environmental committee and the team will assess forest area and wildlife in Purandar, he said.

“We will have a report on the wolf population, the nature of the packs and their habitat. The report will be submitted to the committee. According to our calculations, there are four major spots which wolf packs live and breed. These areas include Dive Ghat along Pune-Saswad Road, Waghapur area, the area in Purandar, Bhuleshwar temple near Purandar and Jejuri area near Purandar. We are putting in a formal request that these areas should be demarcated and developed into wildlife protection zones,“ Golbole told TOI.

He pointed out that at present the wolf population in those areas stands at almost 50.

“There are no identification patterns on wolves like the tiger’s. However, the number of wolves in India is not very high.We have studied them in this area for long, so their numbers are expected to be around 50. We have photographed about 30 individual wolves. This can be said to be their stronghold. The upcoming airport project will definitely affect the wolf population as building an airport is not just about a single structure but also the other development that follows it,“ he said.

Villagers in the area clai med that the forest area spreads across 200 hectare.

The airport project is spread across 2,400 hectare and will include a channel of roads, parking areas, hotels, restaurants and malls. “Our studies have shown that wolves use the area as their safe zone for rest, shelter and breeding. For food, they depend on small animals like poultry and the food leftovers.The authorities will take the issue seriously and our report should be ready within a couple of weeks,“ Golbole said.

Sub-divisional forest officer of Bhor, BP Jadhav , refused any comment. Golbole said if the government wanted, the wolves could be saved.

Source : TOI