Close to 20 resorts and homestays functioning in Thirunelly grama panchayat are on the fringes of either the Wayanad Wildlife Division or the North Wayanad Forest Division.

Sprinkling salt crystals on open areas in forests is the easiest method to attract wild animals. It was a common practice during the British rule in India. The practice is still reportedly followed by a few resorts and home stays near the forest areas here to attract more visitors and raise their revenue.

While many a resort functioning on the fringes of forest attracts visitors by offering sighting of wild animals from watchtowers put up on its premises, some others offer night trekking through forest paths as incentive.

For these purposes, the resort authorities allegedly sprinkle salt on the meadows near the watchtower, luring wild elephants, spotted deer, guars, and wild boars to feed it.

The animals also eat snacks in plastic packets and waste food left by tourists from the watchtower, though feeding wild animals is a crime under forest Acts. These activities also pose a threat to villagers, including tribesmen, living on the fringes of forest as animals who reach the resort premises often raid crops of farmers too.

Close to 20 resorts and homestays functioning in Thirunelly grama panchayat are on the fringes of either the Wayanad Wildlife Division or the North Wayanad Forest Division. There are at least three elephant corridors in the area.

Such resorts and homestays are functioning in other parts of the district too.

Constraints

Many a time forest officials are not able to take legal action against such crimes owing to dearth of solid evidence, a forest official said, since salt would dissolve within a short span of time.

“We had issued stringent directions to the resorts’ managers in the area to stop the practice. We sent sample of mud collected from the premises of such resorts to the soil testing laboratory for further analysis,” the official said.

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