Coimbatore, July 25:
Top Slip, Valparai and other scenic locales in the Anamalai Hills are out of bounds for tourists from Wednesday as the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), a part of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park which forms the core area of Project Tiger has been temporarily closed for visitors following an interim order from the Supreme Court of India.
“While it might be difficult for some of the tourists who had already booked and planned a vacation, the tigers and other animals that live here must be happy and celebrating the court’s decision,” quipped Field Director of ATR Dr. Rajeev K. Srivastava said.
The Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park stretches across 95,859 hectares covering parts of Pollachi, Valparai and Udumalpet taluks in Coimbatore district and is one of the top tourist destinations in western Tamil Nadu known for its abundant wildlife and lush greenery. The core area of the forest covered under Project Tiger covers an area of 12,610 hectares.
Forest officials at the ATR said that the present decision might not affect the tourist flow much as they were just receiving two to three visitors every day as it was not the peak season. “We get a lot of visitors during April and May and again during Dussera holidays, this year we might have a quiet Dussera,” said a senior forest official.
While tourist movement has been banned, tribals and other estate workers who need to pass through the reserve would be allowed to pass through the forest area. “The ban is only for visitors and hopefully, only a temporary one,” forest officials said.