Tamil Nadu

Wildlife takes over parks, gardens in the Nilgiris

The closure of the Nilgiris to tourists during the pandemic has presented wildlife with opportunities to move into new habitats, particularly parks run by the Horticulture Department.

Over the last few months, wildlife photographers and residents have reported a noticeable increase in the number and variety of wildlife visiting the Government Botanical Garden in Udhagamandalam and Sims Park in Coonoor. They record some of the highest tourist footfalls in the district, and along with the Government Rose Garden and Kattery Park, have remained shut to tourists since March 17.

M. Murali, a wildlife photographer who has been photographing birds visiting the Government Botanical Garden since the ban on tourists was announced, said more than 60 species could be seen in the garden. “Of these, 30 species, including the black-and-orange flycatcher and different kinds of woodpeckers, are rarer to spot. Sunbirds are seen frequently throughout the day as opposed to just the mornings prior to the ban on tourists,” said Mr. Murali.

“Earlier, birdwatching in the garden was limited to early mornings before the arrival of tourists. Now, birds are here throughout the day,” he added.

Officials from the Horticulture Department said Indian gaurs, too, were frequently seen in the garden, while a sloth bear was spotted a couple of weeks ago.

“Very shy bird species, which usually avoid Sims Park due to the tourists, can now be seen more easily,” said Titus John, a recreational wildlife photographer and a resident of Coonoor. “Recently, I managed to click a picture of a brown fish owl, which had perched itself in Sims Park to possibly hunt fish from the pond,” he said, adding that owls were usually very shy and flew away at the first sight of humans.

Horticulture Department officials said they planned to document the different birds visiting parks and gardens till tourists resumed their visits. They said they hoped that such an initiative would help in designing future strategies to educate and inform tourists of the rich biodiversity of the Nilgiris.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 4:45:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/wildlife-takes-over-parks-gardens-in-the-nilgiris/article32216512.ece

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