A major bottleneck of the critical elephant corridor at Kallar near Mettupalayam will be removed soon as the Forest Department is looking for an alternative land to shift the 122-year-old State Horticulture Farm at the foothills of the Nilgiris.
The Forest Department said the hunt for an alternative location began based on an order from the Madras High Court, which is hearing a set of petitions related to elephant corridors in Tamil Nadu.
S. Ramasubramanian, Conservator of Forests and Field Director of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, said the Department suggested a patch of land at Chennamalai Karadu, which comes under Odanthurai beat of Sirumugai forest range, and another place as the alternative locations.The Director of Horticulture and Plantation Crops will have to approve the alternative location.
The State Horticulture Farm at Kallar was established in 1900. The 22-acre garden was started as a centre for germplasm, said an official from the Horticulture Department. The farm has a collection of rare plants and fruit-bearing trees such as durian, kiwi, mangosteen, avocado, lichi, rambutan, jackfruits, areca nut and nutmeg, among other things. Agriculture students visit the farm for academic purposes. A park at the farm is frequented by visitors as it is located on the Mettupalayam–UdhagamandalamRoad.
The Kallar corridor, also known as the Jaccanaire-Hulikal Durgam corridor, connects the Brahmagiri–Nilgiris–Eastern Ghats elephant population range with the Nilambur-Silent Valley–Coimbatore population range. The Ghat section of the busy Mettupalayam-Udhagamandalam road via Coonoor starts from Kallar, disrupting the free movement of elephants.
“The order issued by the High Court is very important as Kallar corridor is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve which is home to the single largest population of Asian elephants. It is a very narrow corridor and the shifting of the farm will remove one of the bottlenecks. When a heritage farm is being shifted, the government should also ensure that other obstacles that emerged in recent years are also removed for smooth passage of elephants,” said K. Kalidasan of a Coimbatore-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) ‘Osai’ and a member of the State Board for Wildlife.
He also wanted works of a flyover announced by the government at Kallar to be expedited so that elephants would be able to move freely through the existing road, which is criss-crossing the corridor.
The second edition of ‘Right of Passage: Elephant Corridors of India’ by the Wildlife Trust of India lists Kallar as one of the corridors with “high” ecological priority.