Kerala

Idukki forest fires put wild animals on the run

Herds of wild elephants spotted at Kundala, near Vattavada, in Idukki where large areas of grantis and eucalyptus plantations were destroyed in the recent wildfire.

Herds of wild elephants spotted at Kundala, near Vattavada, in Idukki where large areas of grantis and eucalyptus plantations were destroyed in the recent wildfire.  

Elephants and wild gaurs come down the hills and stay put at Kundala and Chenduvarai

With forest fires being the order of the day, wild animals are increasingly venturing out of the forests to safe areas.

A large number of elephants and wild gaurs have come down the hills of Vattavada and staying put at Kundala and Chenduvarai. Local people spotted herds of wild elephants on the tea estates at Chenduvarai and Kundala in addition to the meadows in the foothills on Thursday and Friday. A herd of 11 wild elephants were seen at the Top Division of the Chenduvarai estate under Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Ltd, bordering Vattavada grama panchayat on Wednesday.

The animals also camped in the shola forests and grantis plantations, said Ramakrishna, an estate worker.

Recently, wild animals were coming out of the forests at Munnar, Marayur, and Chinnar with a severe drought situation prevailing there, posing a threat to estate workers living in the tea plantations.

Herds of wild elephants from Vattavada were increasingly reaching the Kundala and Mattuoetty dam areas for water. Kundala is nearly 15 km from Vattavada. It is estimated that nearly 100 acres of grantis and eucalyptus plantations were destroyed in Vattvada alone in the recent forest fires.

Reports said though the fires in the other forest areas were under control, the wildfire at Jendamala in the Pampadum Shola National Park was still raging.

“Though wild animals such as elephant and gaur migrate to escape fires, the damage to biodiversity will be huge considering the impact on reptiles, small animals, and creatures that may lead to loss of an ecosystem,” a forest official said.

The Munnar and Anchunadu areas witnessed one of the huge forest fires in recent times. It is estimated that over 1,000 ha of forests, plantations, and grasslands had been destroyed in the calamity.

Munnar Divisional Forest Officer Narendra Babu said mass migration of wild animals from the hills to escape the fires had not come to their notice. However, it was usual for wild elephants to come out of the forests in search of water during summer. It would also be monitored if there was a movement of animals from the forests to human habitations, he said.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 6:05:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/idukki-forest-fires-put-wild-animals-on-the-run/article26750811.ece

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