Extremely dry conditions, threats posed by bush fires and pressure on water sources have forced the closure of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) near here.

The Field Director (MTR), Rajiv K. Srivastava told The Hindu that the MTR and the Mukurthi National Park will remain closed from Tuesday. He added that the Chief Wildlife Warden R. Sunderraju has issued a directive to close them as a measure of precaution, as the chances of bush fires breaking out have increased.

Stating that the parks will be closed till April 15 or until further orders, he said that since the drought has become a major source of concern, no one will be permitted to enter the reserve.

Carelessness on the part of tourists is a major contributory factor for bush fires, Mr. Srivastava said, adding that patrolling and fire prevention measures will be intensified.

The closure will be utilized to carry out maintenance work and enhance awareness about the ecology among students.

Boards have been erected at various places to create awareness about the consequences of jungle fires for people passing through the sanctuary. People, including tribals, residing in or near the reserve have been asked to be extremely careful.

Arrangements have been made to meet the water requirements of the wild animals through tankers, which will ensure that the troughs in various parts of the MTR have sufficient water.

Meanwhile, forest officials in Gudalur said that owing to encroachments, elephants in search of water have started coming close to habitations in Gudalur and its surroundings.

People in the hospitality and travel sectors hoped that the situation will improve soon, as the tourist season in this vacation destination will soon be in full swing.

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