Twenty-six waterholes, natural or artificial depressions containing rainwater or groundwater, have been created in the Yeoor forest range in Thane to ensure there is adequate drinking water for wild animals.
“We constructed six new waterholes in areas that didn’t have a source of water. The remaining 19 waterholes were revived through desilting -- a thorough cleansing operation to make small water bodies operational. The idea is to provide enough water to animals till the next summer,” said Sanjay Waghmode, range forest officer, Yeoor.
The forest officers have also revived two artificial waterfalls by placing polythene sheets to avoid percolation and creating proper channels.
Unlike large water bodies like Tulsi and Virar at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) or Tungareshwar, the 60-sqkm Yeoor forest range does not have natural resources to help animals quench their thirst during summer.
The SGNP officers said while reviving waterholes is common at the national park and Tungareshwar, this is the first time so many isolated waterholes had been revived at Yeoor. “All animals living within a protected forest range move towards waterholes either during the morning or evening. This gives us a chance to keep a check on them through surveillance and carry out census,” said Vikas Gupta, chief conservator of forest, SGNP, adding, “The desilting process for waterholes at SGNP and Tungareshwar is currently being carried out.”
Welcoming the steps taken by the forest department at Yeoor, environmentalists said there is a need to increase vigilance to keep poachers at bay. “Considering the severe drought in the state, it is good initiative by the forest department to preserve natural resources. However, there is an urgent need for CCTV cameras or camera traps at each waterhole and regular patrolling to protect animals,” said Krishna Tiwari, founder, forest and wildlife conservation society.