In a bid to ensure that the tranquillity of the natural surroundings in which wild animals exist is not disturbed by the cacophonous din of vehicle horns, or the blaring music from stereo systems on cars, the forest department has decided to raise awareness among motorists to refrain from honking, and playing of songs while travelling on roads passing through Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve.
The department will have personnel posted at both the entrances to the reserve, where motorists will be asked not to disturb the quiet of the woods. The authorities of the forest department in Chamarajanagar have rolled out the new initiative after it came to their notice that pilgrims visiting the famous Ranganathaswamy temple, and visitors to the Kyathadevara Gudi (K Gudi) Elephant Camp situated inside the woods were violating rules pertaining to noise levels inside the reserved area.
For the past one week, forest department staff deputed at the two entrances – Gumballu near Yelandur, and Hondarabalu, close to Chamarajanagar – have been observed distributing pamphlets to motorists venturing into the woods, besides informing them on the rules to be observed while inside the forest. In addition to initiating efforts to bring down noise pollution within the forest, the authorities are working towards raising safety standards.
Visitors have been warned against stopping their vehicles inside the forest, told not to feed animals, and highlighted the perils of venturing into the forest unguided and unprotected. The injunctions issued by the forest department come in the wake of reports of many visitors disrupting the serene environs of the woods by alighting from vehicles, and taking selfies, much to the annoyance of the wild animals.
Moreover, engaging in such acts is in violation of safety norms laid down by the forest department. Besides stepping up efforts to raise awareness, the top brass in the forest department has intensified patrolling across the reserve. Those found to be violating the rules will be issued a warning the first time; if they are caught a second time, a fine of up to Rs 1,000 will be collected.
Motorists, meanwhile, have been advised to stick to the 30kmph speed limit so as to avoid roadkills, a longstanding problem in the many reserve forests across the state. Data from the tiger census conducted in 2017-18 indicates that there are 63 tigers at BRT forest. Since the roads crisscrossing the reserve forest connect Karnataka with Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu, the volume of traffic is significantly high, and more so during the weekends.
Deputy conservator of forests (DCF) for BRT Tiger Reserve P Shankara said, “We have erected signs, and displayed messages on notice boards warning motorists about the dangers to animals on the road. After animal fatalities were reported owing to accidents on roads, we have increased the number of speedbreakers and warning signs.”
The DCF reiterated the blanket ban imposed on plastic at the reserve. “We are also raising awareness among the people in the villages on the periphery of the forests by staging streetplays, discussing possible initiatives with local leaders and conducting contests about the importance of the environment in schools.