Two existing initiatives at Top Slip and a new upcoming initiative at Aliyar on the Valparai ghat road in Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) are aimed at educating the tourists on the flora and fauna of ATR and their values so as to propagate the need for conserving them.
Field Director of Anamalai Tiger Reserve Rajiv K. Srivastava said that a proposal was under active consideration for setting up an awareness gallery at Aliyar, the entry point for the ghat road to Valparai wherein the bio-diversity rich plant species of ATR will be showcased to educate the tourists,
This is aimed at making the tourists to know about flora and fauna rather than turning their visits into mere picnics.
Only when they know about the plants and their value, they would be able to appreciate the same and help in conservation, he added.
Similarly, there are two facilities at the reception in Top Slip, which are not fully utilised by the tourists namely Interpretation Centre and a Medicinal Plants Conservation Area.
Range Officer of Ulandy Range (Top Slip), S. Arockiaraj Xavier is planning to modernise and improve these two facilities in a bid to attract the tourists to visit them.
The Interpretation centre in a spacious hall at the reception has a system called Jungle Symphony an audio visual presentation, with pictures of various species of wildlife in the jungle.
On pressing a button earmarked for each species, the visitor will be able to see the illuminated clear picture of the species and hear the sound generated by it.
The species on the jungle symphony included songsters, insects, hornbills, mammals, frogs, tree frogs, toads, small birds, deer, predators, primates, nocturnal species, ground dwellers, and parakeets. In addition, there are two quiz boards, where the visitor could check his/her knowledge on ecology, nature and wildlife. Quiz Nature Quiz panels I and II have 20 questions each. By pressing the right choice for each question, the board awards five marks.
Some of the defects in these facilities are being attended to and make them more attractive to draw more visitors.
Another board in the hall traces and documents the history of Top Slip including history, geography and personalities involved in shaping up Top Slip namely Dr. Brandis, Mount Stuart and Hugo Wood. A visit to the Interpretation Centre is free.
Another facility in place is the Medicinal Plants Conservation Area (MPCA) developed by Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) of Bangalore on 50 cents of land with 136 varieties of plants with medicinal value.
The small hall has galleries depicting the medicinal value of the plants especially the roots, leaves, stem, barks and whole plant as well.
A fee of Rs10 is being charged as entry fee in order to maintain the nursery.
Top Slip officials are planning to improve upon this MPCA and then raise saplings in a nursery to provide people who wanted to take home plants with medicinal value.