Unrestricted Plantation Activity Destroying Lion-tailed Macaque Habitat in Nelliyampathy

A Lion-tailed macaque in the Anamalais
Ramki Sreenivasan
Lion-tailed macaques rarely descend from the canopy and face various threats when they are forced to do so

Unregulated plantation activity is destroying the lion-tailed macaque habitat in Nelliyampathy. There are 13 troops with around 200 individuals in the area. This is the second biggest population of the endangered primate in Kerala. Silent Valley hosts around 250 individuals. Nelliyampathy has a fragmented ecosystem for these primates due to coffee and tea plantations, as well as hydel projects. Two-thirds of the evergreen forests in Nelliyampathy was cleared for plantation around 60 years ago. There are forests in the south-west and north-east of Nelliyampathy. These forests are connected by a mosaic of coffee and cardamom plantations which offer limited connectivity through the canopy. As a result of the broken arboreal pathways, more time was spent by the animals in searching for food. These results were the conclusion of a study done by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI).

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