group of students of the Meenangadi government higher secondary school in Wayanad district have set a model in restoring wildlife habitat by uprooting exotic weeds and invasive species proliferating in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS).
As many as 50 students of the National Service Scheme (NSS), biodiversity and forestry clubs of the school uprooted invasive species such as Lantana camera , Eupatorium, and Senna spectablis spread over two acres of land in the Ayyappanparavayal forest in the Tholpetty range of forest under the WWS as a part of a paid nature study camp organised by the Forest Department recently.
“We saw flocks of sambar deer and spotted deer and even Indian gaur and elephants wading through largely grown exotic species for fodder during a trekking in the forest and it inspired us to undertake the task,” NSS programme officer M.K. Rajendran said.
“We are planning to organise a seven-day camp under the NSS unit in the Muthanga forest of the sanctuary during the summer vacation for the purpose,” he added.
It is reported that nearly 80 per cent area of forest in the district has been covered by the invasive plants, says Sudheesh Karingari, an environmentalist and coordinator of the programme.
Those plants are stifling other native plants, including medicinal plants, in its vicinity and affecting the food availability of herbivores. It would not only accentuate human-animal conflict but also adversely affect tribespeople, who depend on minor forest produce for their livelihood, he added.
The Forest Department has been conducting free nature study camps for students every year. If such camps ensure the active participation of students, it will give them first-hand experience on the significance of conserving nature and it would help to eradicate weeds from the forest, Mr. Sudheesh said.
We saw flocks of sambar deer and spotted deer wading through largely grown exotic species for fodder during a trekking in the forest and it inspired us to undertake the task.