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Formation of fodder nursery reserves in forests may proved to be disastrous: Experts
Oct 28, 2013

The planting of trees for creation of fodder nursery reserves in forest areas are taking place in Tamil Nadu. The scheme will be implemented over a five-year period for creation of fodder reserves and creation of water sources for meeting the food and water requirements of the wild-animals in a bid to prevent their straying into human habitations resulting in human-animal conflict situations. The scheme envisaged creation of fodder reserves in habitations along the conflict pockets or exit points of the elephants and prevent them from coming out. The scheme had plans for creation of 15 hectare plot in each range into a fodder reserve by planting 3,000 saplings in each plot.

The Coimbatore Forest Division has 690 sq km forest area spread over six ranges. Of the 315km forest boundary, more than 250 are found to be conflict prone and 28 villages were identified as conflict hit. To prevent straying, Elephant Proof Trenches (EPTs) were created in more than 103km boundary line and the objective over the next two-years was to increase it to 250 and then to 315.

Species chosen for the fodder reserve were bamboo, ficus careya, jack fruit, teak, gmelina and pennisetum. Fodder reserves include grass varieties for the herbivores and trees such as jack and bamboo for the pachyderms Fodder reserve plots were chosen along water sources and in places and the department had gone in for drip irrigation to ensure survival of these saplings.

To prevent the wildlife damaging the crops until they are fully grown, the department has erected solar fence besides EPTs.

Naturalists and environmentalists are against the decision to increase fodder reserves in the forests. They argued that cultivation of grasses could not supplement the food requirement of large mammals such as elephants and other ungulates. Raising agricultural crops would seriously affect the forest community structure. This could not be sustained for long.

Creation of artificial farm lands inside the reserved forests would make the elephants to stay for long time in one place, thus affecting their seasonal migration patterns and would escalate human-animal conflicts. Once the wildlife got accustomed to foraging the highly palatable grass, more wildlife could move out of the forest areas in search of fodder. This in turn would change their natural foraging pattern. When a land in a forest area is ploughed it would destroy the naturally grown grasses and shrubs. This process would also destroy insects and other smaller life forms found there, he pointed out.

Normal and seasonal migration of animals and habitat utilisation patters of the wildlife would be affected due to installation of electric fences around the cultivated plots. 

 


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