Read in Hindi | In the year 2019, for the first time, 5 tigers were captured in the night vision camera installed in Kheoni Sanctuary located in Dewas district, in which two adult females, one male, and 2 cubs were seen. Since then, there was talk of developing Kheoni Sanctuary for tourism like other wildlife sanctuaries of the state.
Recently on February 5, 2023, when the Ground Report team went to Kheoni, we also spotted a tiger, yes we were lucky because it is a rare sight.
Rajesh Mandavlia, superintendent of the Kheoni Wildlife Sanctuary, told Ground Report that “Kheoni wildlife sanctuary is situated between the Malwa plateau and Vindhyachal mountain Malao, this sanctuary is spread over an area of 134.778 square kilometers in Dewas and Sehore districts of Madhya Pradesh.”
“Kheoni is very biodiverse, 69 species of trees, 25 species of herbs and shrubs, 24 species of mammals, 21 species of birds, and 5 species of reptiles are found here.”
Kheoni Sanctuary also serves as a corridor between the Satpura Tiger Reserve and the Melghat Tiger Reserve.
If we talk about the forests, the southern tropical dry deciduous teak trees are mainly found here.
Jamner and Balganga, the tributaries of Narmada, originate from here. These two rivers are the source of water for wildlife, but there is a shortage of water in summer.
The forest department has made small ponds inside the forest, in which arrangements have been made to fill water through solar pumps.
There is an ancient temple of Shiva inside the sanctuary, where people come to offer prayers during the festivals.
Eco Tourism in Kheoni
Camps and cottages are available for a stay in Kheoni. Tourists can enjoy birdwatching and Jungle safari. Online booking can be done from the website of the Eco-Tourism Development Board of Madhya Pradesh.
Although people do not know much about this sanctuary yet, tourists come here only on weekends, their number is also not much.
There is also a huge lack of resources for forest conservation in Kheoni Sanctuary, cameras have been installed here to keep an eye on wildlife, but there is no system or technology like GPS to track them.
Here the prey base for predator animals is decreasing. It is very important to maintain it. In April 2022, 45 spotted deers were shifted here from Van Vihar Bhopal.
Afforestation in Kheoni
Rajesh Mandavlia, Superintendent of Kheoni Sanctuary, says that the illegal cutting of trees is the biggest challenge here, the forest is completely open, and there is a shortage of staff for security, such a way it is difficult to stop the tree cutters.
The continuously decreasing forest area can be seen during Jungle Safari.
Controversy over the eco-sensitive zone
In the year 2018, a rumor spread that 40 villages around the Kheoni Sanctuary would be evacuated. The basis for this was the National Wild Life Action Plan 2002-16, under which eco-sensitive zones were to be created in an area of 10 kilometers of all protected areas.
There was a settlement of 40 villages in the 10-kilometer periphery of Kheoni Sanctuary. It was assumed that all these 40 villages would have to be displaced.
When the matter of the eco-sensitive zone reached the Supreme Court, the mandate of 10 km eco-sensitive zone demarcation changed to 1-10 km as per the availability of land.
After which an eco-sensitive zone was formed in the 2 km periphery of Kheoni. The confusion on the eco-sensitive zone area supported the false news of 40 village displacements in Kheoni.
Only one village Kheoni has been displaced and rehabilitated from here because the development resources were not available for the people of the village. Schools and other basic resources could not be built for villagers because of being in the protected area.
The people displaced from here were rehabilitated in the nearby Onkar village. But now most of the people have left the resettlement land and settled in nearby towns like Khategaon and Kannod. Because the land of Onkar village was not fit for cultivation and earning a livelihood.
There is a plan to develop Kheoni Sanctuary like Bandhavgarh, but there is an urgent need to conserve the environment first.
- With ‘Urban Tigers’, human-animal conflicts to become frequent in Bhopal
- Human-Animal conflict in Madhya Pradesh
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