Plastic waste poses threat to deer

When the State government has set the target of eradicating non-biodegradable plastic by December 31, indiscriminate dumping of plastic waste near Gangaikondan Spotted Deer Sanctuary near here is posing a serious threat to the wild animals.

Since the reserve forest covering 441.16 hectares between Gangaikondan and Thazhaiyoothu is the southernmost habitat of spotted deer in the country, Forest department decided to convert it into a full-fledged deer park so as to protect the animals, which are facing a threat from poachers and being hit by vehicles on Tirunelveli–Madurai national highway when they move out in search of food and water.

The absence of predators here has resulted in an increase in the population of spotted deer to over 500, but now food and water for the animals have become scarce. As a result, the spotted deer, after scaling the compound wall on the western side of the habitat and the wire fence on the other three sides, are now migrating to the surrounding areas, even up to Abhishekapatti, where they face threat from poachers and street dogs.

Since the fence is damaged at a few spots on the southern and eastern sides, the animals come out of the enclosure and stray up to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University at Abhishekapatti.

Similarly, after coming out of the sanctuary, they move towards Thathanoothu intersection, where plastic waste is being dumped.

“Spotted deer can be seen grazing amidst the acacia grown along the road at Thathanoothu. Since the plastic waste is being dumped in the grazing ground, the animals eat the hazardous waste along with trashed fruits or vegetables packed in non-biodegradable material. Though we’ve informed forest officials of the serious issue on several occasions, they don’t take action against those who dump plastic waste here,” said an official of the cement factory close by.

“Since there is no sufficient food or water inside the park, the animals come out every night. After accidentally eating the trashed fruits or vegetables along with the packing material, they would rush towards the quarries in search of water. Within a few hours they would die,” say a worker of a stone quarry situated close to the sanctuary

When contacted, forest officials said they had written letters to the officials of Sankar Nagar and Naranammalpuram town panchayats to control dumping of waste at Thathanoothu. “But the local body officials are not cooperating with us” they said.

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