Green fodder banks to curb man-animal conflict
Sep 18, 2012, 12.58AM IST
COIMBATORE: In a bid to reduce the growing incidence of man-animal conflict in Coimbatore region, the Tamil Nadu forest department plans to develop green fodder banks in key elephant populated areas in the district at a cost of Rs 3.45 crore.
According to district forest officer V Thirunavukarasu, green fodder banks would be developed in a total of 240 hectares identified in Solakarai near Walayar, Athikadavu near Karamadai, Sadhanakola and Odanthurai in Mettupalayam, Thanikandi in Boluvampatti, Koodapatti in Periyanaickenpalayam and Kulukumaduvu near Sirumugai.
Planting of trees would begin with the onset of the North East monsoon. Once the trees reach maturity, they will ensure rich fodder for jumbos during dry months. With adequate fodder inside the forest area, the animals will not be inclined to stray outside.
Saplings have already been developed in a special nursery at Mettupalayam. They include pipel, banyan, wild mango, wild jack fruit, bamboo and teak varieties. Seeds of two grass varieties will also be sowed in the forest areas. A few water ponds will be created close to the green fodder banks.
``Initially, we planned to plant the trees in June with the arrival of South West monsoon. But the failed monsoon changed our plans," said Thirunavukarasu. According to him, this is the first phase of the project and areas like Thondamuthur, Anaikatti, Kurudampalayam and Mangarai in the Western ghats will be included in it in the next phase.
The fodder bank idea was formulated after chief minister J Jayalalithaa suggested that steps be taken to ensure green fodder inside the forests. A government order in this regard was released on December 14, 2011 by principal secretary to government C V Sankar. The GO permits the forest department to create fodder plantations to improve wildlife habitats for a five-year period commencing January. The amount released for this purpose across is Rs 22 crore.
The project would focus on cultivating grass and trees of indigenous species. "There would be two kinds of plants and trees, those which can meet immediate consumption needs and those which moderately grow but ensure a permanent fodder bank,'' said Thirunavukarasu.
The department is also building salt licks near water holes in the migratory corridor to supplement the mineral requirement of elephants with the expectation that the jumbos will stay within the restricted migratory route and not stray into human habitations. Construction of check dams and percolation ponds will satisfy the thirst of animals in summer and also facilitate storage in water bodies, the official said.
"An adult elephant consumes 240kg to 260kg of food every day. It spends at least 18 hours grazing. Over 70% of its food needs are available in the reserved forest. In Coimbatore, the green bank will come up in 100 hectares in reserved forests frequented by elephant herds," said Thirunavukarasu.