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Severe drought takes its toll on Karnataka wildlife

Pune Mirror, Bangalore, 15th February, 2013

Article by: Niranjan Kaggere

Acute shortage of water has not only gripped the towns and cities in Karnataka, but also wildlife in the national parks and sanctuaries. While bigger animals manage to sustain themselves by straying out of forests for food and water, the phenomenon is taking a toll on smaller animals.

Concerned about the situation, the forest department is now planning to pump water from the rivers of neighboring Tamil Nadu.

Source in the department said the issue was raised by officials from Cauvery and Kudremukh and Biligiri Ranga Temple (BRT) wildlife sanctuaries, Nagarhole and Bandipur national park and other ranges at a recent meeting chaired by forest minister C.P. Yogeshwara. Acknowledging the situation, Yogeshwara said he has already directed officials to make special arrangements.

"While last year it was the wild fire, this year it is severe shortage of water and fodder due to scanty rainfall. While tigers and elephants are coping with the problem, the worst affected are the gaurs and deer.

Unlike other herbivores which can survive on dry grass and leaves, gaurs require green, fresh fodder, that too in large quantities. Even the water holes have dried up. A majority of the animals are frail and weak," Yogeshwara said.

DROUGHT IN NAGARAHOLE

The situation in Nagarhole, especially around Kabini back waters, has reached alarming proportions." As many as 96 tanks have dried up. There are around 1,000 to 1,500 gaurs and several hundred deer in this part of the forest. Kabini is completely dry. The only solace is the little water in Lakshmana Theertha River which we are thinking of diverting to the dried tanks," Yogeshwara said. The situation is no different in Bandipur. “More than 50 tanks have dried up, only seven have water. We are considering pumping water from Moyar river in Tamil Nadu," an officials said.

CAUVERY HIT TOO

The Cauvery wildlife sanctuary received 50 per cent less rainfall this year. Animals were seen migrating to places where they found water pockets.