The ‘gregarious flowering of bamboo’ inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) and the nearby Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Gudalur forest division in Tamil Nadu may pose a threat to wildlife in the Nilgiri biosphere, a major tiger and elephant habitat.
The bamboo groves in the Wayanad forest are the mainstay of herbivores in the Nilgiri biosphere during summer. With the advent of the season, migration of wild animals starts from the adjacent sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to Wayanad thanks to shortage of fodder and water.
“The gregarious flowering may adversely affect migration, especially by elephants, wild gaur, and other lower herbivores owing to the mass destruction of bamboo groves after the flowering,” S. Narendra Babu, wildlife warden, WWS, said.
“Bamboo groves, which grow in more than 500 hectares of the 344.44 sq.km. of the sanctuary, have fully bloomed, a phenomenon said to occur once in the life cycle of bamboo plants,” he added.
Moreover, pointing to a threat to wildlife as well as the ecology of the Nilgiri biosphere, it is reported that over 25% of bamboo groves in WWS and nearby sanctuaries have bloomed since 2010, and the phenomenon is continuing.
Thorny bamboo (Bamboosa Bambos) is a monocarpic (flowering only once) plant belonging to the Poaceae family (grass family), and its flowering cycle varies from 40 to 60 years.
Profuse natural regeneration occurs from seeds after gregarious flowering. Seeds have no dormancy, and it helps germination under favourable conditions soon after seed fall, Mr. Babu said.
But protection from fire and grazing is essential for proper establishment of seedlings, he observed.
Fire incidents have been comparatively low in the sanctuary for the past five years owing to summer rain and conservation measures adopted by the Forest Department. However, combustible materials have accumulated in the sanctuary this year, and a mere spark may cause an uncontrollable disaster, he said.
Farmers living near the sanctuary fear that the destruction of bamboo groves may worsen the increasing man-animal conflict.
Source: The Hindu