Garbage dumping on forest edges threatens wildlife

Animals feed on waste disposed by local bodies, tourists

Garbage dumping on forest edges threatens wildlife
The garbage menace is not limited Bengaluru City and tier-two cities but has spread to forest areas of the State too. Many reserve forest patches and tiger reserves like the peripheries of Bannerghatta National Park, Bandipur, Nagarhole and Kali Tiger Reserves and Bramhagiri Wildlife Sanctuary are facing the garbage problem.

With the dumping of garbage on the forest boundaries by local bodies, the menace has become so serious that street dogs and bonnet macaques (monkeys) are attracted to the garbage. Besides, this is also contaminating ground water.

Recently in Maldare area under Kushalnagar Territorial Range of Madikeri Forest Division, villagers and Siddapura gram panchayat members were dumping waste in a pit inside the reserve forest patch. Two wandering elephants fell into the pit. The area witnesses high man-elephant conflict and elephants are now seen feeding on waste, say conservationists.

Chief Conservator of Forests, Kodagu Forest Circle, Manoj Kumar said that after illegal dumping was stopped and the pit closed, the gram panchayat and district administration have found another place to dump waste.

Another forest official from Madikeri pointed out that locals even now dig pits illegally at night in the reserve forest patch, dump waste and fill them. The forest department is yet to book the offenders.

Piles of garbage comprising organic, inorganic and medical waste can be found inside and enroute to Bramhagiri. The black spots have become feeding ground for monkeys.

Last week, a huge cleanliness drive was undertaken at Kali Tiger Reserve by forest officials, locals and volunteers. Garbage in border areas is a challenge due to villages and hamlets around.

Bandipur Tiger Reserve director B B Mallesh said that in April, they will buy an autorickshaw for Rs 2 lakh to help watchers collect waste thrown by travellers and tourists along the 13-km highway connecting Melmakanahalli to Kekanahalli everyday. This waste includes plastic, water and liquor bottles and eatables. 

There were instances in the past where vehicles from Kerala dumped garbage on the borders and even inside Bandipur. This was stopped after criminal cases were filed against offenders. But smaller vehicles, in the guise of carrying cargo, are found to be dumping garbage on the peripheries. The captured monkeys which are released in Bandipur by local municipalities are found picking on garbage.

Nagarhole Tiger Reserve director H C Kantharaj said garbage was no problem in the forest patch, except near Hunsur where there is a human settlement. The problem is from tourists who throw waste, especially plastic. Regular cleanliness drives are conducted to clear this menace.
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