Fodder shortage in forests may claim lives of more elephants (Coimbatore, India)


Times of India

Date Published

COIMBATORE: The Forest department fears more elephant deaths in the Coimbatore forest division due to fodder shortage. As many as eight elephants died in the last four months in the division. District forest officer (DFO) S Ramasubramanian told TOI on Thursday that more elephants would go without food in the coming days if the region did not receive rain. The department can provide water facilities to the elephants, but they cannot provide fodder.

The Coimbatore forest division has seven forest ranges – Coimbatore, Madukkarai, Bouluvampatti Periyanaickenpalayam, Karamadai, Mettupalayam and Sirumugai – comprising 711sqkm of forest area. Due to severe drought in the forest areas, Madukkkarai, Sirmugai, Thadagam, Marudhamalai, Mettupalayam and a few more areas were not having green fodder for wild elephants.

“An adult elephant needs 250 kg of food every day. So it wanders more than 12 hours in the forest for food. The severe drought has hit the forests and the elephants are struggling to survive due to non-availability of green fodder. If the situation continues for a month, many elephants could die in the forests,” said DFO Ramasubramanian.

He said the forest department constructed at least seven water turfs in each range. “We have been filling water for animals in the turfs every day. Water is not a problem for elephants, green fodder is main problem,” said Ramasubramanian.

As many as five female elephants, including a calf, died in the forest division from January 2017 to May 1, 2017. Two elephants died due to non-availability of fodder in the Sirumugai range.

Forest areas at Kunjapanai near Kotagiri in Nilgiris district received rain a few weeks ago and there is enough green fodder in the forests. So the elephants have to migrate to survive. “This is the worst year for wild elephants in the past three decades. We are expecting rain to save the animals,” he added.