Forest fringe turns bar; strewn bottles pose threat to jumbos (Coimbatore, India)


Pratiksha Ramkumar, Times of India

Date Published


Environmentalists who went on a cleanliness drive on the elephant corridor in Coimbatore on Sunday were in for a rude shock as they found mounds of liquor bottles strewn all along the path used by elephants.

Environmentalists say the forest fringes along the Western Ghats have been turning into open bars for youngsters from the city who drive down to drink in scenic settings. The downside is that they dump their bottles on the elephant corridor.

“Sometimes these bottles are broken, which eventually injure elephants. The injury will lead to infection, leave the elephant unable to walk which in turn would result in starvation and even death,” said an environmentalist. Forest authorities say they do not allow anybody into reserve forest area, but admit this could happen in forest periphery.

The clean up event on the elephant corridor near Mankarai forests, by an organisation called Sangamam on Sunday, led to almost 50 sacks of empty alcohol and soft drink bottles being collected by volunteers. “It is mainly youngsters from Chinna Thadagam to Anaikatti who are responsible for this mess,” said a forest ranger. “They mostly come on weekends,” he said.

In the case of Mankarai, environmentalists say it is because the Tasmac outlet located near Thailamaram does not have a bar attached to it. “After Kanuvai, for the residents this Tasmac is the only option to buy liquor. But without a bar attached to it, many youngsters go to Othaparai to drink. Once they are done, they just throw the bottles and leave,” said environmentalist M Siva.

“We don’t allow anybody to enter the forest area without permission. So they cannot drink inside the forest. But this menace is there in forest fringes. It happens near Vellingiri, one spot in Periyanaickenpalayam, Theethipalayam, certain places between Mankarai and Anaikatti and Mettupalayam,” said the ranger. “Very few drive very deep inside, but even in the fringes it is dangerous because elephants are not restricted to deep forests alone,” he said. “Many bottles picked up had sharp edges that can injure an elephant’s foot, and take months to heal or even get infected,” said S Anbarasu of Sangamam who organised the clean-up.

Sangaman appealed to the collectorate to ensure TASMACs are not placed near forests.