November 1, 2017
The image of a tiger crossing the railway track at Walayar on the Coimbatore-Palakkad border has been doing its round on social media and leaving a trail of tension as also curiosity.
The presence of a tiger has left people in the area tense as this was quite unheard of. But environment activists trace things back to nearly a century and a half pointing to a tombstone near Podanur that asserts tiger presence.
The tomb of the Briton train engine driver John Wilson has the inscription that he was killed by a tiger. He was working for the Madras Railways when he was attacked and killed by a tiger in Walayar on April 10, 1868. The tombstone is on the railway premises near Podanur.
Vanam Trust of India Founder S Chandrasekar says the John Wilson tombstone in Podanur confirms the presence of tigers in the area. In the latest case, it is for the forest department to look into the matter and take efforts to save the animal as also people living in the forest fringes.
“The presence of tigers in Walayar if confirmed can mean they have been moving out into human habitats as a result of deforestation,” he says.
There was proof of tiger presence in the forests in Coimbatore earlier and even places like Sirumugai and Mettupalayam in Coimbatore forest division recorded tiger sightings, he added.
The Parimbikulam Tiger Reserve in not far off from this area and if tigers from there are moving out, the forest department needs to look at the issue quite seriously, many say.
Another environmentalist K Mohanraj says, “We cannot come to a conclusion on the basis of an unclaimed image. It is for the forest department to confirm this through census and setting of camera traps in the area.
There is the possibility of the animal coming from neighbouring areas like Anaimalai, Parambikulam and Nelliampathi. The pathways between these areas and Walayar are now human settlements. Earlier studies in other places have indicated tiger crossings through human settlements.
Sources from the Kerala forest department, however, say there is no record of recent sightings of tiger in and around Walayar.