Dry conditions cause concern

With dry conditions becoming a source of concern at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) near Udhagamandlam, a proposal has been sent to the government to close it. Deputy Director, MTR, Ameer Haja, told the The Hindu on Wednesday that a detailed report with inputs from Range Officers had been submitted to the Field Director, MTR  Raghuram Singh. It had been sent by the Field Director to the Chief Wildlife Warden along with a recommendation to close the reserve.

If approved, the MTR would be closed around the first week of March and would remain closed till the situation improved.

Tourists would not be allowed and elephant and van safaris would be suspended. During the period of closure, maintenance works would be stepped up.

Pointing out that this season had so far seen one major bush fire and a couple of minor fires inside the reserve, he said that lantena, grass etc. had become extremely dry due to the frost and lack of rain. A considerable part of the total area of 321 square kilometres had become highly vulnerable to fire. Precautionary measures were being put in place. Though the flow in the Moyar river was sufficient, other water sources were drying up. Consequently animals, particularly elephants have become a common sight on roads cutting through the reserve.

In view of the situation, the Disaster Management Centre  in Theppakadu had been placed in a state of alert. Forest officials, particularly fire watchers and anti-poaching staff, would be on their toes round the clock at various points, including Morgan Betta,Upper Kargudi,Chikhallah. Inter-State coordination would be improved and highway patrolling conducted.