This refers to the report “Tiger population in Mudumalai faces threat from lantana” (Aug.18). I wish to state that this matter was looked into during the period 1969-1973 when I was District Forest Officer in the Nilgiris. On the contrary, the then wildlife warden, Mr. M.A. Bhadsha, was of the view that it helped some species of birds like partridges and small mammals like barking deer to breed safely and multiply. The matter was also discussed with many wildlife experts and this was more or less the opinion. Though an invasive species, lantana has merged with the local flora over a period of time and may be contributing to the stability of the eco-pyramid. A study was once conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society on the floristic composition and the changes occurring over a period of many years in the Mudumalai sanctuary for which preservation plots were laid out and data collected. This data will shed more light on the spread of lantana and the status of other plant species.
Unless data is collected over a period of time and analysed, it cannot be said that lantana poses a threat to the tiger population, which, as the report says, stands between 80-100 individuals. I am sure that this happened in spite of this “invasive plant species.”
S. Subbarayalu, Chennai