Water scarcity may increase man-animal conflict

A tusker drinks water from a trough created by officials in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.— Photo: Special Arrangement.  

: Increased heat wave conditions, dry weather clubbed with water shortage may lead to more man-animal conflict this season, say the Forest Department sources.

In order to overcome this problem, the Forest department has created water troughs in dry patches in the sanctuaries and national parks.

A senior officer said in the four tiger reserves in the State the department had identified Udumalpet and Amaravathi Ranges in Aanamalai Tiger Reserve; Kalakkad, Thirukkurungudi, Papanasam, Kadayam and Ambasamudhram in Kallakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve; Theppakkadu, Karugudi, Masinagudi and Mudumalai in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Sathyamangalam, Hasanur, Thalamalai, Thengumarahada and Bhavanisagar in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve as dry areas, where depending upon the movement of wildlife, the department has created water troughs.

Providing water in troughs or cut fodder during dry season is mainly done to make the animals stay within their habitat. Such an effort would also help in reducing man – animal conflict, they claimed.

However, conservationists such as K. Ullas Karanth and N. Samba Kumar of Wildlife Conservation Society have a different view with regard to replenishing water. In a report they observed that one of the guiding principles of wildlife management in conservation areas was that the natural population dynamics of animals should not be interfered with.

Wildlife populations were entirely different from domestic animals. The wildlife populations must undergo natural stressors such as droughts and diseases and should get impacted by cycles of lower survival rates and densities. S. Jayachandran, Joint Secretary, Tamil Nadu Green Movement, said providing water in troughs would not be a permanent solution to mitigate the water scarcity. Instead highest protection should be accorded to water augmentation areas such as Shola forests, grass lands, riverine forests and swamps. Such an effort would only help in retaining water in the forest areas even during peak dry seasons, he added.