“Open garbage dumping attracting sloth bears to human dwellings”

Poor waste disposal in the city’s panchayats and Nilgiri municipalities attracts sloth bears to human dwellings, leading to the risk of problematic interactions with humans.

In recent years, sloth bears have been observed with increasing regularity in the towns of the Nilgiri, especially Kotagiri. Due to regular interactions with humans, the Forestry Department has been forced to put up cages to try to trap the animals and move them to reserve forests.

However, this strategy is untenable in the long term, said N. Sadiq Ali, founder of the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust (WNCT). “Relocation is essentially a death sentence for territorial animals like sloth bears, which are at great risk of having to fight for territory with other sloth bears, leopards and tigers in their new habitat,” he said. he said, adding that acclimatization to new habitats is also difficult for displaced animals.

The conservationist also highlighted a particular capture operation earlier this year in Kotagiri, when an adult sloth bear was captured in a guarded cage to trap it, while two other juveniles – the animal’s cubs escaped. “There is a chance that the two cubs died because they were separated from their mother. The Forestry Department, instead of seeking to mitigate these conflicts, rushed to capture these animals without understanding the long-term consequences, ”he added.

Kartiki Gonsalves, a documentary filmmaker from the Nilgiris, works with the WNCT and the Forestry Department to photograph sloth bears that venture out of forests and into human dwellings.

“As the Nilgiris are a biosphere reserve, measures must be taken to ensure that there is no open dump of rubbish and that all waste is managed efficiently. Relocation of sloth bears should also only be used as a last resort, and people should be made aware of how their actions also contribute to problematic interactions, ”Sadiq Ali said.

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