November 28, 2016
Udhagamandalam: With a man being fatally attacked by a gaur at Sim’s Park in Coonoor recently and a couple of more close encounters involving humans and gaurs being reported in some other parts of the district over the past few days the escalating man-gaur conflict is now engaging the attention of the authorities concerned and concerned sections of the society.
Following the conflict figuring prominently in various sections of the media,in gatherings like the periodical grievances redressal meetings conducted by the district administration and in discussions involving wildlife activists a view gathering ground is that a plan of action should be put in place to check the escalation before it gets out of hand.
What is being underscored is the need to enhance awareness among the people about gaurs and their behaviour.
Describing the situation brought about by the conflict as, “unusual but not alarming”, the Field Director,Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) Srinivas R.Reddy told The Covai Post here that the population of gaurs has shot up.Stating that it was not unexpected,he said that it was part of a cyclic phase. When chased particularly by crowds in an agitated mood conflicts are occurring.
Pointing out that gaurs are normally very docile animals,he said that they are not known to attack when not provoked. Citing an example,Mr.Reddy adverted to the normal tea leaf plucking operations in many of the tea gardens in the Nilgiris despite the presence of gaurs nearby. When the gaurs enter the tea gardens to graze between the tea bushes,the workers exercise extra caution but do not provoke the animals.
Regretting that in the Sim’s Park incident the deceased,who was a tourist had thrown caution to the winds while taking selfies,he said that quite often the visitors treat gaurs like common buffaloes and pay the price for it.
Expressing the hope that even the local people would be little more sensitive while dealing with gaurs,he said
that when the animals stray into human habitations including towns like Ooty and Conoor they should be allowed to find their way to the nearest wooded area.
To a query Mr.Reddy opined that warning signs should be put up at tourist spots where gaurs frequently stray into like Sim’s Park and the upper part of the Government Botanical Garden.
Stating that in the lower parts of the Nilgiris there was not much of a conflict,he said that though the rainfall was down by about 60 percent in places like Masinagudy this year,the grass was still green.
Pointing out that unregulated development was one of the main reasons for the conflict escalating,Wildlifde Activist K.Vijay lamented that many of the tea estates bordering forests which had for long acted as buffer areas had been converted into concrete jungles. As a result the animals are now more visible.
Expressing the view that the approach of the people to the conflict should be practical ,he said that they should not lose sight of the larger picture.When asked to elaborate,Mr.Vijay explained that if something happens to the gaurs the prey-predator balance would be upset and the people would be affected.
To a question,he said that even in adjoining places like Coimbatore people should take precautions to prevent gaurs from straying into habitations as they are not territorial animals.
Meanwhile various farmers associations have appealed to the district administration to evolve ways to to prevent gaurs from straying into habitations and raiding crops. It is high time a conflict management machinery is put in place.