COIMBATORE: There is a gradual increase in the findings of plastics in elephant dung at Valparai in Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR). Though the number of elephants roaming the 220 square km Valparai plateau, which has 41 forest fragments, is less compared to last year, forest department field level staff and elephant researchers are finding plastic in dung in more places like Rottikadai and Nallamudi Pooncholai viewpoint etc. The trend indicates that elephants are consuming plastic along with food waste because of poor waste management by Valparai municipality.
During a stakeholder meeting in September last year to prevent man-animal conflict, officials of ATR requested Valparai Municipality to collect garbage and process it at the earliest as food waste would attract not only elephants also Bonnet Macaques, Lion Tailed Macaques and leopard etc. But the civic body seems to have not done much in this regard. Further, Forest department and Highways department placed boards advising tourists not to dump food waste in the open, but the efforts have failed to yield results.
Ganesh Raghunathan, Research Affiliate of Nature Conservation Foundation NCF, who is doing research about the wild elephants over the last one decade and working to mitigate man-animal conflict in Valparai said they have seen more number of plastics in the dung at Rottikadai, Nallamudi Pooncholai view point, TANTEA and BBTC estate areas in the last couple of months which was unusual than previous years. “Consuming plastic is dangerous to the animal’s health and it reduces their lifespan. Not only for wild elephants, plastics pose a big threat to entire wildlife in Valparai,” he said
G Venkatesh, Valparai forest range officer, and A Manikandan, Manomboly forest range officer, confirmed the development and said they have asked the Valparai municipality to follow proper solid waste management practice.
Alagu Sundaram, Valparai municipality chairman, told TNIE that they have started door to door waste collection in the last couple of days and dumping in open would end soon. “We will also buy a machine to shred plastics since around 7.5T of garbage is generated in Valparai daily,” he added.