BENGALURU: Following bad rains in the region, animals at Bandipur National Park are facing acute shortage of water. The forest department is using solar pumps to try and ease the situation.
Only 15 of the over 250 ponds and lakes have water and this has prompted the Forest Department to take the help of solar-powered water pumps to the partially dried-up lakes and ponds. Authorities are also extending the project to other ponds at the tiger reserve. As a result water will be pumped into another six big lakes to ensure that they don’t go dry.
The Forest Department, which had earlier thought of using electricity to pump water into the water bodies dropped the idea. They were under pressure from wildlife experts who felt that such a move would lead to ecological and biological imbalance.
Each solar-powered water pumping unit has been set-up at an estimated cost of Rs. 10 lakh and are instaled at Southekere and Kundakere in Omkar Range. New borewells have been built at Dasanakatte and water is being continuously pumped into the lakes. Each unit can generate up to 5100 watts of power which can be used to pump 3 litres of water per second and over 10,000 litres of water per hour.
These solar panels have been installed 15 to 20 feet above the ground level and a trench has been dug around them to prevent wild animals from damaging them. With water being particularly scarce in N. Begur, Tavarekatte, Hulikatte and Anekatte, Gundre and Omkar forest ranges, wild animals, especially elephants are forced to move out to quench the thirst. According to forest officials, the elephants are moving towards Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary and Kabini backwaters where water is scarce. Estimates put that it will last only till January.
T Hirala, Director of Project Tiger, Bandipur, said, “We have installed the solar water pumping units which are safe and efficient. We want to ensure that the animals get sufficient water. At present we are pumping water to two ponds in the first phase and six more ponds in the second phase.”
Last year, there was a similar situation at the Nagarahole National Park and the department sunk a borewell near the Tiger Tank in Antharasanthe range. The water was being pumped also using solar power and the measure was a huge success. Now, authorities at Bandipur Tiger Reserve are going the same way. Bandipur National Park which is over 1,200 sq km wide houses have over 2,000 elephants, 120 tigers, leopards, bears, deer and innumerable reptiles and bird species. It is ranked among the best parks in India for animal sightings, especially tigers.