With the Western Ghats registering poor rainfall and the temperatures soaring, it is not just humans but wildlife too that is suffering from the heat.
To ensure availability of water, the forest department has decided to dig borewells near water bodies inside the jungle and equip them with solar-powered pumpsets. The department has begun drilling borewells in Bandipur tiger reserve, where almost all small streams and lakes are dry. The state is home to 5,000-odd elephants, 400 tigers, leopards, sloth bears, blackbucks, gaurs and a ntelopes.
“We plan to add more borewells across all sanctuaries in the coming months through corporate social responsibility funding,” said principal chief conservator of forests B G Hosmath. Two more borewells will be installed in Bandipur, and they will be ready for use in 30 days.
“The solar-powered borewells will have a tank installed on a tower from where water will be allowed to run through a pipe into an existing water body, typically into a small portion of the lake or tank bed that is deepened to ensure availability of water. The pump works during the day sending water into the overhead tank,” explained Ajjikutira T Poovaiah, assistant conservator of forests, Gundulpet division. Water from the overhead tank will also be stored for animals to drink and can also be used to douse forest fires.
Last year, the department transported water in tankers into the forests to fill artificial water holes.
Pooviah said such pits are limited in number and wild animals tend to go to natural water sources. Environmentalists say the idea is short-sighted. “Digging of borewells and extracting water will dry up places nearby, deplete animals’ supply of water and affect the ecology in long run,” said SN Girish, an e nvironmentalist.