Aquatic Weed Threatens Elephant Habitats in Valparai, Tamil Nadu

  • 26 Jul 2023

Recently, an invasive aquatic weed, Ludwigia peruviana, is spreading rapidly in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, posing a threat to elephant habitats and foraging areas.

Key Points:

  • Weed Attack: The weed has infested swamps known as vayals, reducing the availability of lush grass and native plants that elephants and other herbivores rely on for food.
  • Impact of Weed: The dense thickets of Ludwigia are suppressing edible forage, increasing the risk of man-animal conflicts as elephants may come closer to human settlements.
  • Location Importance: Valparai, located within the Annamalai Tiger Reserve, serves as a key habitat for elephants moving between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • Challenges: Most swamps infested with Ludwigia are located in private estates, making their removal a complex task.
  • The soft nature of Ludwigia makes manual removal challenging, as it easily breaks and spreads from the root or broken stems in the swamp.
  • Conservation Efforts: The Forest Department and the Nature Conservation Foundation have been monitoring the Ludwigia invasion and raising awareness about the issue.
  • Private estate managements have an obligation under the Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forests Act to participate in conservation activities, including controlling invasive species.