KOCHI: Private trekking groups and illegal resorts are luring adventurous youths through social media, offering unique opportunity to explore the wild. The spurt in illegal trekking has caused concern among the Forest Department officers as the hikers may disturb the wild animals or fall prey to animal attacks.
Youngsters from cities arrive in the villages bordering forest areas in Ernakulam district during weekends and vacations for trekking. They stray into the forest with the help of local guides or tribesmen without understanding the dangers involved.
The Kerala Government had banned all trekking activities in the forest areas following the forest fire at Kurangani Mala in Theni district of Tamil Nadu which led to the death of around 20 people. However, with the authorities relaxing the restrictions, illegal trekking has started thriving again.
“There are people who lure tourists, advertising Pooyamkutty river is ideal for river rafting. Recently, a group of tourists from Germany arrived at Kuttampuzha for kayaking. They had read some articles about kayaking experience in Pooyamkutty river. We convinced and sent them back. As one side of the river is human habitat, we cannot stop people from entering the river,” said Kuttampuzha Forest Range Officer S Rajan.
According to sources, the trekkers cross the Manikandanchal bridge and sneak into the forest during night time with the help of local guides. They often visit places like Kandanpara, Pindimedu, Urulanthanni and Enippara. Two years ago, two persons had drowned in the river. Recently, the Forest officers had caught a group of revellers who camped atop a rock in the forest during night. The Forest Department has urged the Police and Revenue Departments to initiate action against illegal resorts.
“Illegal trekking is a major cause for concern for the Forest Department. We have stepped up vigil and are keeping an eye on outsiders visiting the area. We are considering a proposal to allow guided trekking at some places to curb illegal trekking,” said Malayattoor DFO A Renjan.