The Forest Department will launch work on the third phase of the multi-crore eco-tourism project at the Elephant Camp at Konni soon, P. Pukazhenthi, Divisional Forest Officer, has said.

Talking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, Mr. Pukazhenthi said tender proceedings of the proposed butterfly park and children’s park at the Elephant Camp was under way.

The eco-tourism centre has been developed jointly by the departments of forest and tourism at the nine-acre Elephant Camp in January, 2007, making it a base station facilitating various eco-tourism activities in the region.

The camp houses modern elephant shelters, elephant kraal, a photo gallery, mini-theatre, biogas plant, retiring rooms for mahouts and shops that sell forest produce. The DFO said the third phase of the project was aimed at setting up new entertainment facilities, besides improving the existing ones.

He said the nine-decade-old Forest Inspection Bungalow at Naduvathumoozhy would be converted into a guest house-cum-heritage interpretation centre.

Butterfly park

Mr. Pukazhenthi said the proposed butterfly park would be a home to hundreds of colourful butterflies, including some rare species. Depletion of green cover owing to fast pace of development had been posing threat to butterfly population even in rural areas.

The DFO said the proposed eco-friendly park would be enclosed in a polycarbonate dome suitably designed for weather control and to educate the visitors about how various systems of nature worked, using this insect as a model.

Tree-top huts

He said tree-top huts had also been planned as part of the third phase. Elephant safari is a major tourist attraction at the camp. An elephant at the camp costs Rs.100. The sojourn on the elephant is a thrilling experience and it offers a unique opportunity to appreciate and enjoy nature. Though the camp houses five elephants, the department has been conducting elephant ride only on a 23-year-old female elephant ‘Anuradha’.

Mr. Pukazhenthi said rock climbing and river rafting would also be introduced in the third phase of development. Vana Samrakshana Samithi workers had been appointed as guides to take tourists for jungle treks as well as various other eco-tourism activities, he said.