Coimbatore

HPF factory in Udhagamandalam now hosts wildlife

A forest staff checking the pugmark of a leopard on HPF Quarters Road which is on the border of the Nilgiris forest division near Udhagamandalam on Friday.  

In almost a decade since operations ceased at the Hindustan Photo Films (HPF) factory in Udhagamandalam town, the surrounding forests have slowly made inroads into the factory premises and brought in a variety of endangered wildlife that have made the factory their home.

Local residents say Asiatic wild dogs (commonly known as dhole), leopards, sloth bears, Indian gaur, sambar deer and barking deer, and rare species of birds are sighted regularly on the 200-acre premises.

Nilgiris-based conservationist N. Mohanraj says the land on which the factory was built was an extension of the Wenlock Downs grassland-Shola forest mosaic, and is contiguous with the Sandynallah reserve forest and Thalakundah.

“Tigers and even elephants have used this corridor in the past to reach the outskirts of Udhagamandalam town. So it is important that studies are done to understand the species that are using this area, and bring it under the control of the forest department. We need to look at how this benefits wildlife, and to also safeguard the people living in the area,” he says.

Restoration ecologist Godwin Vasanth Bosco says invasive species such as Gorse (Ulex) is spreading quickly in the area, but this may be a precursor to native flora establishing itself. “Native species like Justicia simplex, Fragaria nilgerrensis and sedge are establishing themselves in small numbers in areas where the exotic species are not able to flourish. It is only in the specialised habitats that the native species are starting to grow,” he says.

Though it is primarily invasive flora that is spreading, these, however, helped build soil layers and fix nitrogen. “They also provide habitat and fodder for wildlife. Promoting the growth of native species of flora can be accelerated, which, in turn, will benefit the wildlife,” he says.


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 6:57:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/hpf-factory-in-udhagamandalam-now-hosts-wildlife/article35641746.ece

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