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Panel to study impact of vehicular movement in national parks

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Assessment: (From left) Anandrao V. Patil, Rajiv K. Srivastava, D. Rajkumar, Manoj Kumar Meena and Raju at the Bandipur National Park on Thursday.
Assessment: (From left) Anandrao V. Patil, Rajiv K. Srivastava, D. Rajkumar, Manoj Kumar Meena and Raju at the Bandipur National Park on Thursday.

Special Correspondent

Awareness campaign to be launched to reduce animal deaths

Disturbance caused by vehicles driving animals away from their habitat

Speed restrictions could be imposed in Bandipur National Park

BANDIPUR: A sub-committee comprising senior officials of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and other stakeholders will be constituted to study the effect of vehicular movement in the national parks in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) and to suggest steps to mitigate its impact.

The authorities will conceive and adopt a “landscape plan” comprising the entire NBR and will not take a narrow view of the problem or limit the study to either Bandipur or Gundlupet alone.

This was decided at a meeting held at Bandipur National Park on Thursday and attended by officials from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The sub-committee would be constituted within a month and it would take a comprehensive view of the issue raised by wildlife wing of the Forest Department as also the NGOs and come out with mitigatory measures in view of the seriousness of the subject.

The meeting was attended by the Anandrao V. Patil, Collector of Nilgiris; Rajiv K. Srivastava, Field Director, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Mukurthi National Park; Manoj Kumar Meena, Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar district; and Raju, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bandipur.

However, officials from Kerala did not participate in Thursday’s meeting.

They were briefed about the problems by D. Raj Kumar of Wildlife Conservation Foundation who has worked extensively in Bandipur studying the impact of traffic movement inside the national park and apprised of the danger not only to Bandipur but also to Mudumalai and Wyanad.

A preliminary conclusion arrived at was that disturbance caused by vehicles was driving hordes of animals away from their natural habitat to the human landscape escalating the man-animal conflict and this had to be reversed.

Mr. Meena said though the order issued by him restricting the movement of traffic has been lifted for the time being, the issue cries for attention and hence a few mitigatory measures would be implemented based on the recommendations of the sub-committee.

The temporary measures could include imposing speed restrictions inside the National Park and implementing it, laying road humps at a distance of every 100 metres to act as effective speed barriers, among others.

“Some of these measures have been adopted at the Mudumalai and we will study the same and implement them in Bandipur,” Mr. Meena said.

As a contingency measure to reduce the number of animal deaths on the highway, the authorities plan to launch a public awareness campaign and subject the drivers of trucks and other commercial vehicles to alcohol tests at the entrance of the park.

A night patrolling unit will also be constituted to keep a tab on the movement of vehicles and crack down on them if they are found to be violating the speed restriction. “We will also impose stiff penalty to act as a deterrent against such acts”, said Mr. Raju. Mr. Patil said conservation was as important as development and the latter could not be at the cost of environment and wildlife.

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