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Early summer triggers wildlife migration to Wayanad sanctuary(The Hindu, 25-12-2016)

 

Drought-like situation in the Nilgiri biosphere has led to early migration

The seasonal migration of wild animals in search of fodder and water has begun from wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWLS) even before the onset of summer, largely owing to the drought-like situation in the forest areas of the Nilgiri biosphere.

“The annual migration usually begins in the first week of February and continues till the advent of the monsoon. But it appears that owing to the drought-like situation in the adjacent forest areas, caused by deficit rainfall in the Nilgiri biosphere, the migration started early this year, P. Dhaneshkumar, Warden, WWS, told The Hindu.

The sanctuary is a haven for wild animals during summer owing to easy availability of fodder and water throughout the year. But the sharp decline in rainfall this year has posed a problem. However, officials have made highly structured measures at a cost of nearly Rs.1 crore to assure the availability of fodder, water and protection measures for the migrating animals.

“Water sources in the sanctuary, including 335 check-dams and 219 waterholes, have been closely monitored with GPS every week to ensure drinking water for the wildlife, Mr. Dhaneshkumar said. “Though water scarcity has not affected the sanctuary till now, nine temporary check-dams are being built inside the sanctuary, where the streams may dry up during summer,” he added.

Moreover, desilting works in13 major waterbodies and the construction work of five new earthen bunds have been completed, he said.

As part of fodder management, around 116 hectares of coarse grasslands have been trimmed to grow the soft grass and 545 hectares of exotic plants eradicated in the sanctuary.

Apart from 25 permanent anti-poaching camps and five watch towers at important strategic points inside the sanctuary, as many as 15 newly erected treetop machans (temporary watch towers) will start functioning this year and forest officials, including guards and watchers, have been deployed there to alert against poaching and wildfire. As many as 221 watchers have been deployed inside the sanctuary, including 111 newly appointed temporary watchers.