Forest officials to check illegal goldmining in Pandalur range (Tamil Nadu)
Shantha Thiagarajan, Times of India
October 11, 2021
Illegal gold mining in the Goldmines RL (reserve land) falling under the
Pandalur range of forest in the Gudalur division has been claiming the
lives of wild animals of the area.
On Saturday, a six-monthold carcass of a tusker was found during a routine
patrolling by forest field staff in a 30-foot pit in the Goldmines RL area.
However, both the tusks were intact.
A few days ago, a month old elephant calf was rescued from a gold mining
pit in the same RL area. The calf was, later, reunited with its nursing
A preliminary report of the postmortem suggested that the carcass of the
elephant was around six months old and the animal was around 10-12 years
old. The elephant fell into the pit while on its move, according to Prasad
Ganesan, forest range officer.
He said, “In this connection, we have registered a case under the Wildlife
Protection Act, 1972, citing reasons as illegal mining and hunting. An
investigation is underway.”
According to the official, people from nearby villages such as Devala,
Pandalur and Nadugani allegedly indulge in illegal gold mining in the RL
area. It is also alleged that people from the border area of Kerala involve
in illegal activity.
Shekar Kumar Niraj, principal chief conservator of forest and chief
wildlife warden told TOI, “The Goldmines RL areas are located close to the
reserve forest area. Lands falling under corridors or wild animal movement
areas could be judiciously prohibited from the mining of any kind.”
These incidents are examples that frequent movement of wild elephants occur
at the Goldmines RL areas, he said. Goldmine RL areas, extending to over
600 hectares, were once tried for gold mining during the British period.
Many mining pits in that location are more than 50 years old. New mining
pits are also found.
“Under Section 53 of the Gudalur Janmam Estate (Abolition and Conversion
into Ryotwari) Act 1969, the Goldmining RL areas have been declared as a
reserve forest. But the procedure under Section 16A of Forest Act is still
underway,” Niraj said.
He said, “To protect the wild animals from falling into the mining pits, we
are working on mitigation strategies. For the time being, as an alleviation
measure, the big mining pits would be fenced, while the small mining pits
would be filled with earth.”