COIMBATORE: Tribal people in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve who participated in interactive programme with vulture conservationists, urged the State government to take steps to remove invasive plant species near their villages that are located close to forest areas. Also, they demanded a plan (setting up Uzhavar Sandhai or take over their produce) to market their agricultural produce.
As part of carrying out vulture conservation measures with public participation at Mayaar, Boothanatham and Vaalaithottam villages, ‘Arulagam’ an NGO conserving vultures with the help of Tamil Nadu forest department, Udagamandalam Government Arts and Science College and Rotary International (Nilgiris west) convened a meeting with the villagers to know about their grievances.
N Prem Kumar a tribal who participated in the meeting, told TNIE “Every year, one of the invasive species like Parthenium hysterophorus and Lantana camera is dominating, near the villages (forest boundaries) and forests.This year we have seen abundant Senna obtusifolia. This provides a suitable hiding place for wild boars, sloth bears and other wild animals. Apart from damaging our crops, the situation also escalates man animal conflict. The invasive species must be removed so that we can have clear sighting of the forest.”
S Bharathidasan Secretary of Arulgam said “This is the first such meeting with the villagers and their grievances would be addressed on priority, starting from removal of invasive species on scientific basis. We are working out a plan by involving local people in conserving vultures since three species like Red headed, white backed and long billed vultures are thriving in the surroundings of Mayaar.”
“Recently, a tiger killed a cow and dragged the the carcass into the bushes near the forest boundary of Araikadavu near Mayaar. As a result, the vultures were unable to feed on it. Our priority is to remove
invasive species by involving the local participation and create livelihood out of the species since 40 per cent of the over 320 square km forest in MTR is occupied by invasive species,” he said.
“We are cultivating vegetables, ragi and maize. After harvesting we travel more than 40 km to Udagamandalam from our villages. We have to spend huge sums on transport but are get nothing. On behalf of seven villages in the surroundings of Mayar I requested the authorities to set up Uzhavar Sandhai or take our produce from the farm itself. This would improve our livelihood,” said N Karthik a tribal resident.
Upgrading primary hospital at Masinagudi, taking steps to create fodder availability for cattle during summer apart from creating employment opportunity for youths etc are also the other suggestions tabled before the meeting.