At InnTheWild, Located Near Bandipur, our staff and management are always concerned about the beautiful wildlife and wilderness that surrounds us. So as a Senior Naturalist here, one of the first major steps that I have undertaken is to have gotten our first conservation program kick-started and approved by our management. This is the first among various baby steps that we plan to undertake, and when you do visit us, please do have a word with me (Subish Sebastian, Senior Naturalist, InnTheWild, Masinagudi) on how *YOU* can get involved with the InnTheWild Conservation Program.
Weeds are considered a serious threat to biodiversity in several World Heritage-listed areas including the Western Ghats and specifically the Mudumulai and Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Therefore weed management becomes the top priority for habitat management for the ungulate population and thereby for the carnivores.
Lets take the example of Lantana Camara. These are not only unpalatable for the herbivores, but also when forced to consume (due to the lack of other palatable species) it can cause serious harm as it contains pentacyclic triterpenoids that cause hepatotoxicity and photosensitivity when consumed. These weeds invade the surrounding habitat in such a manner that it reduces pasture productivity. Left uncontrolled, it can spread and exclude useful native grasses. At the Kanha Tiger Reserve, the forest department spends large sums of money every year for uprooting Lantana Camara.
Like the Mudumalai and Bandipur Tiger Reserves, even InnTheWild, Masinagudi located right within the government marked buffer zone of Mudumulai Tiger Reserve, is not free from weeds. Above is a photograph that shows how weeds have taken over grasslands right in front of our TreeTop Cottage Accommodation.
There are three main varieties of weeds invading our property:
- Lantana Camara
- Parthenium Hysterophorus
- Cassia Tora
Parthenium Hysterophorus and Cassia Tora are spreading mainly due to heavy grazing pressure from the large spotted deer population within the property and the occasional Indian Bison/Gaur that come into the premises. The below photograph was clicked by our esteemed guest Mr. Godwin Manuel and shared with us on the InnTheWild Facebook page.
While Parthenium Hysterophorus and Cassia Tora are spread due to grazing pressure, Lantana is dispersed mainly by birds. Given this, we need to check the invasion of these weeds into the habitat which can lead to the disappearance of open ground species like the spotted deer from our property. It also impacts the visibility of animals and can be a hindrance for both animals and guests.
Finally it is highly recommended that we start planting saplings of other native trees. We have approached the Mudumulai Forest Department for their support in terms of helping source native saplings and are very happy to report that their officers and rangers have been supportive of this effort.
We will be placing an order for natives trees like Dalbergia Sissoo, Syzygium Cumini, Anogeissus Latifolia, Ficus, Lagerstroemia Microcarpa and Bamboos. Artocarpus sp. (Jack fruit), Mangifera Indica (Mango tree), Tamarind are other trees that we are planning for plantation on our premises along with Mayflower. Artocarous, however, should be planted only at far end boundaries since they attract elephant herds that are a huge fan of Jack fruit.
So here’s what, I would like to close with, do visit InnTheWild, Near Bandipur and get an opportunity to be actively involved with us in helping conserve and sustain the beautiful nature that we are blessed with.