'No dearth of drinking water for animals in forests'

'No dearth of drinking water for animals in forests'

A view of Tavarekatte Lake under Bandipur range of forests under the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Gundlupet taluk of Chamarajanagar district, recently. DH Photo/T R Sathish Kumar

Even though the mercury levels have reached a record high, with the worst wildfires in recent years, in the forests under the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Forest department officials claim that there is no scarcity of drinking water for animals.

“Out of a total of 373 water bodies, including lakes and ponds, 290 have dried up this year under the reserve. However, solar-powered pumps have been installed near 48 ponds to fill them with groundwater. Besides, check-dams have been constructed across the forests to increase groundwater levels,” said officials.

The Bandipur Tiger Reserve comprises 1,020 square KM of forests, under 13 ranges. Around 85 lakes have sufficient water, while water is being pumped into around 50 lakes. Since a couple of years, borewells have been dug near the waterbodies. They have been fitted with special solar pumps, which are less noisy. Noise of water pumps should be minimal to ensure that the animals are not scared. These systems ensure continuous supply of water into ponds and lakes, during summer and drought conditions.

The solar-powered water pumps have been fitted to borewells near the waterbodies in Kundakere, Bandipur, Gopalaswamy Betta, Omkara, Hediyala, Moliyuru, Molehole, Maddur, and N Begur ranges of forests. Thus, steps have been taken to check the migration of the animals in search of water. If the animals face scarcity of water in the forests, they also stray into human habitations, giving way for man-animal conflict. As water is available in a limited number of waterbodies, eco-tourists can see the animals near the lakes and ponds during safari rides.

As it rained well in the first part of the last monsoon, there is around 60% water in big lakes. Only smaller waterbodies have dried up. As the wild animals lack sweat glands, they roam around waterbodies to maintain their body temperatures. They have to depend on the water and fluids in their food to balance the temperature. Besides, the animals have a knack of finding the presence of water in the forest.