Tourism sector in Wayanad feels the heat as temperature rises and wild animal attacks increase

Wayanad: The tourism industry in Wayanad has been rattled by recurring wildlife attacks and soaring temperatures. With all the eco-tourism centres under the forest department closed including wildlife safari parks and waterfalls, the footfalls of tourists in Wayanad registered a steep dip in February and the trend continues in March, according to industry sources.

The forest department had decided to close down the eco-tourism centres on February 19 temporarily, due to the deployment of staff for fire fighting and combing operations to identify wild animals causing scare in villages. The High Court also intervened through an order on February 29 closing down all the eco-tourism centres under the Forest Department till further directions.

The major tourist attractions of the district, the jungle safaris in Muthanga near Sulthan Bathery, Tholpetty near Mananthavadi and most of the waterfalls and trekking trails have been closed for the last two weeks. The court also directed the forest department not to open the eco-tourism centres without the prior permission of the court.

The other ecotourism destinations closed include Kuruva Islands, Brahmagiri Trekking Trail, Soochippara Water Falls, Meenmutti Waterfalls, Chembra Peak Trekking, and Muneeswaran Kunnu Trekking. During the last two months, five persons were killed in animal attacks in the district, two in tiger attacks and three in elephant attacks. In two cases, the elephants trampled to death the victims entering human habitats.

Greens have been demanding that the eco-tourism centres should not be opened till the forests receive sufficient rain. Wayanad Praktihthi Samrakshana Samithy (WPSS), the leading environmental organization said that the forest department should conduct a detailed study on the ecological pressure due to eco-tourism centres and till the study results are out the centres should remain closed.

However various stakeholders’ organizations are up in arms against the blanket closure of eco-tourism centres. Wayanad Tourism Association district convener Anwar Meppadi told Onmanorama that the organization has plans to approach the High Court as the decision affected more than 1500 families depending on tourism sector.

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