Kotagiri dumpyard draws wildlife into negative interactions with people

The photo taken last week shows sloth bears foraging for food at the waste management facility in Kannika Devi Colony in Kotagiri.

The photo taken last week shows sloth bears foraging for food at the waste management facility in Kannika Devi Colony in Kotagiri. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Open dumping of Kotagiri’s waste at the Resource Recovery Park at Kannika Devi colony is attracting sloth bears to the residential area, putting wildlife at risk and also increasing the chances of negative human-animal interactions in the area.

In recent months, local residents reported the sighting of around three to five bears that regularly enter the waste management facility to rummage through the garbage that is dumped on the site.

D. Durai, a resident living in Kannika Devi colony, said there were over a 100 families, mostly daily wage workers, living in the locality. “We have been demanding the shifting of the waste management site to an alternative location as the stench from the dump becomes almost unbearable, especially after the rain,” he said.

Local residents also complain of seepage from the facility polluting the well at the bottom of the slope where the waste management facility is located. S. Mary, another resident, said the dumpyard had led to the deaths of three persons in 2011, when a landslip brought down a huge mound of garbage and buried a house with three people inside it, leading to their deaths.

“In recent months, sloth bears were seen frequenting the dumpyard. People are afraid to leave their homes past dusk, fearing an attack,” she said.

Habeeba Fathima, technical coordinator, Biodiversity Conservation at Keystone Foundation in Kotagiri, said wildlife that foraged at the dumpyard faced an imminent threat to their health and overall well-being. “Eating garbage alters the behavior of all animals and plastic ingestion can be lethal to wildlife. Plastic containers can also get entangled around the neck of the animals,” said Ms. Fathima.

The safety of both the bears as well as humans was compromised because of the dumpyard. “The bears use the same path that leads to the anganwadi, which has been shut for this reason,” she added, urging the local town panchayat to come up with a long-term solution to the issue.

Officials from the district administration said they were looking into fencing off the facility to prevent animals from entering it.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 4:28:28 pm |