Karnataka

Two trees chopped down in Mysuru over fear of bats

The trees that were felled on Ramanuja Road in Mysuru.

The trees that were felled on Ramanuja Road in Mysuru.   | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM

Fear that bats could spread novel coronavirus has led to felling of two trees in Mysuru, much to the chagrin of environmentalists.

The incident took place on Wednesday and a section of the local people said the trees were felled as they used to attract bats and it stoked fear in view of their possible role in the spread of the virus.

Peeved by the development and also fearing that this could be used as a pretext to fell more trees, environmentalists have brought the issue to the notice of the Forest Department.

S. Shyalajesha, environmental activist, said the Singapore cherry trees on Ramanuja Road had a good canopy and fruit-eating bats used to frequent and sometime roost there to forage on the cherries. But the trees were felled on Wednesday owing to the fear of bats.

M. Pradeep, a city-based zoologist who has conducted studies on bats in Mysuru, said it is true that bats are carriers of lots of viruses but they do not transmit them to human beings easily. Scientists are still studying as to how and why the novel coronavirus transmission took place, but trees should not be felled merely because they attract bats. He said there are 13 species of commonly found bats in Mysuru, most of which are fruit-eating varieties. “Going by the same logic, one has to axe all the fruit-bearing trees as well across the city, which is ridiculous,” said Mr. Pradeep, cautioning against using bats as a pretext to seek permission for tree-felling.

Deputy Conservator of Forests Prashanth Kumar said he would advise the staff down the hierarchy not to issue permission for tree-felling on such grounds.

Referring to the Ramanuja Road case, Mr. Prashanth Kumar said the permission for felling was sought in February though the trees were felled on Wednesday.

He said bats play an important role in pollination and seed dispersal and they need to be conserved. Their presence should not be used a pretext to axe trees, he said, and added that there are no large bat colonies in Mysuru and hence people should not take the law into their own hands.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 10:32:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/two-trees-chopped-down-in-mysuru-over-fear-of-bats/article31252204.ece

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