Bamboo sprouts may bring back jumbos to Kabini backwaters (Karnataka, India)


Bosky Khanna, Deccan Herald

Date Published

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Shortage of bamboo trees has resulted in reduced sighting of elephants in the Kabini backwaters of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. 

However, fresh sprouting of bamboo around lantana weeds in the forest patches is likely to increase the presence of elephants in the days to come, much to the joy of animal lovers. Forest officials said the sprouting of bamboo was a good sign and would help manage the weeds. 

A forest department official said a few years ago, Kabini backwaters was the preferred location for photographing, counting and learning all about elephants. This is because one side of the backwaters had bamboo and the other side was natural forest patch of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. The sightings have dropped because of the absence of bamboo. 

P Annur Reddy, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), told DH that during the elephant census, he found bamboo shoots had started sprouting below the weeds. “It is a good sign. We have to wait for the monsoon to see what happens. Bamboo is the lifeline of our forests. Due to drought and absence of bamboo, elephants and other animals had resorted to peeling off tree barks for food, because of which trees would die.” 

He said that managing weeds like lantana was not easy. The staff have to clear it every year for at least three years to ensure it does not sprout again. Bamboo appears to be the best alternative for the weeds, the officer said. 

“A meeting with officials of the forest research institute and Wildlife Institute of India will be held soon to discuss on how to manage weeds, how to procure bamboo saplings and seeds to increase plantation,” he said. The department is also seeking expert advice to study the bamboo and the weeds. They are also seeking inputs from the forest divisions to decide where the bamboo should be planted.”

C Jayaram, additional PCCF (wildlife), said weeds grow anywhere, but bamboo grows only in rain-fed areas. Planting of bamboo should be done with utmost care.