TAMIL NADU

Water scarcity forces wild animals to stray out of habitats

A tiger walks through the dry Kabani riverbed on the Kerala-Karnataka border as a herd of deer warily keep watch early this week.Benny Ajantha

A tiger walks through the dry Kabani riverbed on the Kerala-Karnataka border as a herd of deer warily keep watch early this week.Benny Ajantha  

Forest Department is supplying water to thirsty wild animals in the interiors of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

With the drying up of water sources in the scorching summer, instances of wild animals straying into villages in forest fringes are on the rise in the State.

There were reports of wild elephants reaching Chelakkara and Thiruvilwamala in Thrissur from the forests in Palakkad through the Bharathapuzha, sources said.

Photographs taken by the Pathanamthitta-based wildlife photographer Benny Ajantha show a tiger wading through the dry Kabani bed as deer, sambars, and elephants keep a watch.

Experts say the changes in the forest ecosystem, triggered by climate change and excessive human intervention, have led to the straying of wild animals into human habitations where they could easily pick cattle and dog. Rapid increase in wildlife population and pressure on forest fringes due to cultivation have also contributed to the situation, says G.Prasad, former Wildlife Warden in Munnar.

Mushrooming of quarries along the forest borders has been leading to drastic changes in the forest ecosystem, pushing wild animals out of their habitats. Unscrupulous granite quarrying has depleted the groundwater table, drying up waterbodies in the forests.

Pathanamthitta, with 52.6% of its geographical area under forests, has been witnessing frequent man-animal conflicts along the forest fringes.

From last year, the Forest Department is reaching water to the interiors of the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Munnar to prevent wild animals from straying out of forests in search of water.

The sanctuary experiences severe drought from January to May and the department ferries water to the interior reaches in a camper vehicle during the period.

Situated in a rain shadow region, the Chinnar sanctuary experiences prolonged dry season and less rainy days, says Mr. Prasad. Experts also attribute construction of dams to the water scarcity experienced in the forests during the summer.

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