TIRUNELVELI : Animal sightings along the roads through the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) forest range are seeing a spike since the announcement of the lockdown, said KMTR Ambasamudram Division Deputy Director (in-charge) Ganesan told TNIE on Thursday. Ganesan, also an eco-development officer, said a herd of nine elephants and a streak of tigers, including a mother with two cubs, were seen on the roads last week in Ambasamudram and Papanasam forest ranges. With few tourists to disturb the tranquillity in the wilderness, many species of animals now freely roaming in undergrowth or crossing roads. The official's statement was seconded by residents of the Kaani settlements in Papanasam.
Preventing transmission to infection
Following the report of a tiger contracting coronavirus infection in a New York zoo, officials have stepped up monitoring animal deaths in the forest range. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) asked the reserve officials to report any animal death in the forest. A set of protocols are in place for examining and investigating such deaths. A veterinary team would be patrolling the forests to take care of injured animals and to examine carcasses, if any.
Twelve teams in the Ambasamudram division would be patrolling forests in Ambasamudram, Papanasam, Mundanthurai, and Kadayam region to prevent occurrence of wildfire. Troughs are now filled regularly with water. District Forest Officer Senthil Kumar said there are eight water tanks for animals in Kadayanallur, Sankarankovil, Sivagiri, Gangaikondan forest regions.