Forest Department fills up troughs to tackle water crisis

Officials hire water tankers to fill up water holes in Coimbatore and Nilgiris divisions to quench thirst of wild animals.
Forest Department fills up troughs to tackle water crisis
A trough is filled with water in Theppakadu forest area in The Nilgiris

Coimbatore

With summer setting in after a prolonged dry spell, the Forest Department in Coimbatore and Nilgiris districts have begun to fill water in troughs to quench the thirst of wild animals.

The poor North East monsoon coupled with the unprecedented frost this time has led to the authorities making an early intervention.

Authorities are filing up troughs Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) by engaging tankers. “Water is being filled in natural percolation ponds and in troughs in MTR from the month of December. 
Four automatic solar pumping facilities have been set up in the buffer zone to avoid manual interventions. If the storage level comes down, the troughs will automatically be filled up,” said A Pushpakaran, Deputy Director at MTR (buffer zone). 

Similarly, the field staff are monitoring the water level in troughs falling under the Coimbatore limits. They refill the troughs based on necessity.

The Forest Department staff claimed that the water troughs help in restricting wild animals from straying out of their habitat during summer months. Intrusion of wild animals into farms and villages usually escalate during summer, when the animals come out in search of water and fodder, they said.

According to Sumesh Soman, District Forest Officer, Nilgiris Division, “Five check dams have been refurbished by plugging leakages to store water for wild animals ahead of summer.”

“These check dams are on streams running down the slope. So, even if the streams get dried up during summer, water will be available for wild animals in the check dams. A new check dam is also being built in the Nilgiris division,” he said.

The forests coming under Nilgiris division has a good population of Indian gaur and bison, besides other animals. Wild animals do not face any water scarcity in the division due to the presence of Pykkara lake and other water sources nearby.

However, environmentalists have termed the Forest Department’s move to fill water in tanks as unscientific, adding that such a measure would only culminate in more human-animal conflicts.  

“If water is stored in tanks located in forest areas abutting human settlements, it may result in wild animals staying in the same spot without migrating. Subsequently, an increase in population of bigger animals at a single place may lead to fodder shortage and trigger intrusions into residential neighbourhoods and escalate conflicts. The animals have an instinct to move towards dams and perennial water sources,” said K Mohan Raj, an environmentalist. 
Watering Points
  • There are around 54 troughs in the seven forest ranges coming under the Coimbatore division
  • Coimbatore-13, Mettupalayam-8, Karamadai-2, Boluvampatty-7, Perianaickenpalayam-8, Sirumugai-6 and Madukkarai-10 

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