VISAKHAPATNAM:Five months after cyclone Hudhud wreaked havoc in coastal Andhra, the region is staring at a harsh summer. More than anyone else, the wild animals seem to have borne the brunt. With no rain for months together, the streams and water bodies on the hillocks have dried up and the pastures have withered, leaving little resource for the wild animals to survive.
According to forest officials, shrinking water resources and fast disappearing green pastures are posing a serious threat to the wildlife in Simhachalam Hills and Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary, this summer. For the first time, the entire wildlife on the forest stretch is facing severe drought with no water and no pastures.
While the wild animals often straying into human habitations, in search of food and water, the poachers are making hay while the sun shines on them. With the mercury set to shoot during the next two months, the forest officials have expressed concern over the survival of the wild animals in the area.
Deer, sambar and wild boars are straying into human habitations in search of food and water, say forest officials, which has led to man-animal conflict along the areas bordering the forests. Apart from poachers, stray dogs are also attacking the antlers.
According to sources, incidents of poaching have gone up in Simhachalam and Kambalakonda Reserve Forest area. As the forest officials have no control over the forests around Simhachalam, poachers from faraway places are also arriving here to hunt wild animals.
However, the forest officials denied allegations of poaching in the reserve forest area. But then, they expressed serious concern over extensive encroachment in the area. After Hudhud, some locals have grabbed huge stretch of forest land after setting fire to the pastures.
According to the residents of Madhavadhara, Krishnapuram and Yendada, antlers have regularly been entering the human habitations in the area. Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary and Simhachalam forests offer natural abode for leopards, barking deer, mouse deer, spotted deer, porcupine, sambar, wild boar, hyena and many other wild animals. The wildlife is being disturbed by the people, who are encroaching upon the hillocks and developing human habitations. Local youths, who go for trekking and frequent to the forest for firewood, informed that they have spotted men moving on the hillocks.
Though the Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy Devathanam of Simhachalam is guarding the hills, encroachment is rampant on the hillocks where forest land is being levelled indiscriminately for construction of houses.
“Normally, wild animals come out of the forest in search of food and water. Considering their needs, we have developed green pastures in an extent of 15 acres in Kommadi. However, the areas on Simhachalam Hills do not come under our jurisdiction and the forest department is not taking any steps to protect the wild animals atop the hills. It is true that earlier, a few deers died having been ran over by heavy vehicles while crossing the road on NH-5 near Yendada. The forest officials are regularly patrolling and conducting random checks at the reserve forest area. There are no incidents of poaching in the forest. However, we will issue an alert for our men to keep a vigil,” a senior forest official said.
Meanwhile, the post of district forest officer has been lying vacant for the past one-and-a-half years. Only one in-charge official has been overseeing the regular works. “Yes, it is true that the pastured have withered. The water resources are also shrinking. However, the department is providing water to the wild animals in Kambalakonda wild life sanctuary. We have identified four leopards in the sanctuary, following the pug marks. But, there are no figures regarding deer and sambar. It is high time to frame more stringent rules to conserve the wild life,” said in-charge district forest officer P Ram Mohana Rao.