Ooty: While more than a dozen wild jumbos were said to have died due to dehydration and shortage of fodder in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in recent times, the greens here accuse the MTR administration of poor water management and lack of care for animal health, for the jumbos’ death.
These are not happy times for MTR as the dry weather has been prolonging since December. But, it appears that the MTR administration and chief wildlife warden (CWW) in the state failed to take up the challenge posed by the testing weather to protect the jumbos.
While the official sources in MTR put the jumbo toll around 12, in recent times, S. Jayachandran, joint secretary of Tamil Nadu Green Movement (TNGM) said more than 20 jumbos, including the two that died on Friday at the buffer zone, have died over the past three months. “Nobody denies that MTR has been experiencing drought. But, wildlife management can be enhanced. Though the state government and the chief minister show keen interest in wildlife conservation, it is the bureaucrats who lack commitment and mess up things and there is no transparency on animal deaths.”
Though officials in MTR attributed natural causes for the jumbos’ death, it is a fact that they died due to dehydration, lack of fodder and infections caused by contaminated water in slushy pools.
It is learnt that the administration does not have sufficient facilities to provide tanker water in all the vulnerable areas. The TNGM would seek the intervention of the judiciary if the forest officials in Chennai failed to act to set right things in MTR for healthy animal life.
Jayachandran said MTR should learn lessons from the adjacent Bandipur tiger reserve in Karnataka where water management is good and the animals are taken care of.
As officials in MTR declined to talk to the media, citing instructions from the CWW, sources said the infighting and factions among the top officials and lack of planning were the reasons for the present situation.
A highly-placed forest department official told DC that the CWW would be instructed to look into the issue.