COIMBATORE: A viral video of an elephant rummaging a garbage bin near the PHC in Masinagudi on Tuesday has startled animal lovers and wildlife activists. With summer likely to turn food and water sources scare, which would force animals to enter human habitat frequently, activists appealed to the Nilgiris Collector SP Amrith to order all panchayats to forthwith remove garbage bins from public places and start door to door collection of waste to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
N Sadiq Ali, founder of Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust (WNCT), said “Earlier, we witnessed incidents of sloth bear entering residential areas in Kotagiri due to the poor waste management by the local body. We suggested to the district administration to remove all the bins as garbage smell attracts the sloth bear, Only a few panchayats implemented the suggestion. Now that elephants have started to look for food in garbage bins, we request the collector SP Amrith to intervene immediately. “
“Now that the elephant has consumed food from the bin, it is higly likely that it return to the place frequently, attracted by the salt content in the leftover food,” he added. It may be recalled that in May 2016, an elephant rummaged like stray dogs and cattle in the dump yard maintained bu Gudalur municipality on Naduvattam Road.
Dr B Ramakrishnan, assistant professor, Department of Wildlife Biology, Government Arts College, Udhagamandalam “MTR is an optimal foraging area and due to the spread of invasive species and as well as summer, the grass has dried and becomes less nutritious. This drives elephants in search of alternative food sources. “Elephant is single stomach animal and only 50 to 60 percent of food gets digested. If the animal takes plastic along with food, it will get digested and could prove fatal.”
P Arunkumar, deputy director, buffer zone of MTR, said “We are aware of the issue and have been observing the animal for the last one month. We have requested the district collector to start engaging sanitary workers in door to door collection of waste in several villages of Masinagudi and as well as in Mavanalla and Vaalithottam areas. The collector said panchayats will be told to empty the garbage bins every evening without fail.