Although wildlife and humans have competed for resources on India’s Sigur Plateau for centuries, satellite images illustrate why the situation has grown particularly tense in recent years.
India has two lengthy mountain ranges that stretch along the country’s coasts—the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats. They intersect in southern India in Tamil Nadu, near the Moyar River Gorge in the Sigur Plateau. As India’s population has grown, the plateau has emerged as a key wildlife corridor that sustains elephants, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, gaurs, and other vulnerable and endangered animals.
The plateau has a growing human presence as well. Indigenous people have lived and farmed in the area for centuries. More recently, large tea and coffee farms have been established. There’s also a series of hydropower plants along the Moyar River. And in the early 21st century, resorts have sprung up due to the plateau’s proximity to Mudumalai National Park, the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and Bandibur National Park.
The Tamil Nadu state government has sought to establish wildlife preserves that would bar new development and may require some resort owners and other private land owners to vacate the area.
Image courtesy of NASA.