The controversial elephant which died after suffering an acid attack by the resort staff suffered dehydration and could have reduced the fire injury if the nearby ponds and streams were not dry.
“Drying up of water bodies and streams due to commercial exploitation in Mudumalai tiger reserve is the main reason for the stray of elephants and there is a serious problem with the policies of the state and central government. Policymakers fail to understand that the forest and commercial activities cannot go hand in hand,” said conservation scientist A Kumaraguru of Sathyamangalam Tiger Conservation Foundation.
Earlier this month, when I visited Mudumalai there were visible signs of dehydration among pachyderms and ungulates and this is enough for the wildlife to stray and become the target for miscreants and local poachers, he opined.
“The forests are broken to facilitate development and commercial activities and there are no contiguous forests for 50 kilometres in a stretch where will the elephants go. Every elephant herd requires a home range of pristine 100 square kilometres, do we have such serene woods,” wondered the biologist.
Prevention of wildlife crime is important than the arrest of offenders and there is no preventive mechanism from the state forest department. Only a controlled eco-tourism will help to conserve the wildlife. Only the cruelty against elephants and tigers make headlines, but hundreds of smaller mammals are facing extinction daily, rued wildlife activist K Mohanraj of Coimbatore.
Wildlife activists and ecologists blame the forest department for not implementing the Supreme Court order to act against the illegal resorts and lodging houses that had mushroomed in Nilgiris. It is a fact that action has been taken against resorts and they are closed, said a senior forest official when contacted.
The revenue department and the local bodies give NOCs and permission for residents and they indulge in illegal activities endangering wildlife.
Classification of converted revenue lands back into forests is the only option to curtail the cruelty against wild animals and protect their habitats, the official said passing the buck on other state departments.
“Supreme Court guidelines on elephant corridors are not implemented in letter and spirit and high handed revenue department plays the spoilsport for the forest department by giving NOCs and oral permissions for the illegal resorts and lodges,” admitted a local forest ranger demanding upright officers in sensitive wildlife posts for better conservation.