Nocturnal animals under threat here

A.D. Rangarajan

TIRUPATI: The `night life' of animals in Tirumala is in peril. Excessive artificial light has become the bane of the largely endangered, nocturnal animals. Increased human intervention in the forest areas and non-adherence to sanctuary rules have added to their woes.

A part of the Sri Venkateswara Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Tirumala, is home to rare flora (Cycas beddomi and red sanders) and fauna (slender loris and golden gecko). Nocturnal beings such as panthers, owls, porcupines, snakes, lizards, night czars and deer inhabit the region.

In order to help pilgrims, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has illuminated the forest, but this has affected the animals' hunting and reproduction patterns.

The busy Tirumala ghat roads are closed for traffic only between midnight and 3 a.m., while the sanctuary rules require that the road remain closed for six hours. The Forest Department has reminded the TTD about this several times, but to no avail. When contacted, a senior TTD official said that implementing the rule could leave pilgrims stranded and create traffic disarray.

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