While various efforts are being taken to remove bottlenecks on the critical Kallar elephant corridor, which is crisscrossed by the busy Mettupalayam – Udhagamandalam Road, littering continues to be a big threat to the pachyderm pathway.
In a recent clean-up drive jointly conducted by the Forest Department and WWF-India, volunteers removed eight sacks of glass bottles and 25 sacks of plastic garbage from the corridor areas.
“We collected sharp objects like glass bottles along the Kallar and Coonoor rivers. These objects may harm soft-padded animals like elephants and large carnivores. An injured animal may also come into conflict with humans in the area. We also came across dungs of elephants with ingested plastic materials in the area, which is a clear indication that plastic garbage is posing a threat to wildlife,” said D. Boominathan, Landscape Coordinator, WWF-India.
According to the local residents, people visiting the Nilgiris were largely involved in the littering at Kallar and along the ghat section. Visitors take short breaks at dowhill Kallar and they dispose of waste on the sides of the road. Liquor bottles strewn on the sides of the road indicate that miscreants misuse the scenic location, which falls under Odanthurai village panchayat, for alcohol consumption.
“Kallar is a crucial corridor for all kinds of wildlife, including large carnivores, elephants and mega herbivores like gaur, chital and even hyenas occasionally. Due to the close proximity of the national highway connecting Ooty and Coimbatore and the presence of attractions like the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Farm, there is a steady tourist movement and hence it is important to manage the place better for the good of both animals and people,” said, Joseph Stalin, Forest Range Officer, Mettupalayam range.
Giving impetus to the cause of keeping wildlife areas free of glass bottles, a Bench of the Madras High Court comprising Justices N. Sathish Kumar and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy on October 11 directed the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) to implement liquor bottle buyback scheme in Coimbatore and Perambalur districts, similar to the one introduced in the Nilgiris.
The court noted that District Collectors of Coimbatore and the Nilgiris had promised to set up plastic collection booths on the routes leading to Udhagamandalam. However, such booths do not appear to have been established, observed the Bench, besides warning of stringent action if such booths were not set up and a compliance report was not filed at the next hearing.