The appeal as it appeared in Hindu newspaper on 28th Feb.

Source: The Hindu

Wayanad check-post plan may put jumbo movement in peril

E.M. Manoj

KOZHIKODE: Appeals have been made by nature lovers to the government to ensure that the proposed check-post complex in Wayanad will not disturb elephants reaching the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary for fodder and water in the summer months.

During a recent visit to Wayanad, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac had mooted the idea of relocating check-posts located at different places on the Kerala-Karnataka border in Wayanad on one campus.

N. Badusha, president of the Wayanad Nature Protection group (Wayanad Prakruti Samrakshana Samithi), urged the government to ensure that the proposed site for the check-post complex would not be on the “elephant corridor,” which the animals use to reach waterholes inside the sanctuary from dry places across the border.

He said if the check-post campus was on the elephant corridor, because of long queues of vehicles waiting for clearance, elephants would not be able to move around freely.

The samithi points out that because of the fragmentation of habitat, elephants moving from Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu to Wayanad have to pass through a corridor which is only 2.5-km wide, extending from Mulehole in Karnataka west to Muthanga in Kerala.

Even within this corridor, there is an enclosure around Ponkuzhi which is fast developing into a pilgrim centre and halt for travellers as the inter-State highway NH 212 cuts through this forest. The perennial Noolpuzha running through this corridor is the only source of water for a large population of elephants moving through this area for three to four months a year.

Hundreds of vehicles speed through the highway linking Bangalore with Kozhikode. Vehicles, especially goods-laden lorries, have to halt at four check-posts located close to Muthanga and similar check posts on the Karnataka side also.

Warden of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary Sreevalsan said the department had no information about the site chosen for the check-post complex.
But he agreed that the two check-posts functioning near Muthanga were a disturbance to the wildlife at times since a large number of vehicles had to halt there.

The samithi has urged the government to locate the proposed check-post campus on a place outside the forest on the Kerala side of the elephant corridor.