Invasives and Culture
“Once we see the buffalo footprint, we can find the Buffaloes all together. If they are not all together, then they can be found separated. Earlier times, there used to be thick forests with native trees and plants, not invasive species like the eucalyptus. Those days, Tiger used to not come till our villages. When the forests were thick, then even if there is a wild animal, if we make noise from our houses, it used to run away.
Now there is hardly any food inside the forest that is why they come to the villages. In this case, if a wild animal suddenly comes across a human, then the animal is likely to attack, Because of the many instances in which humans and animals have seen each other almost daily, the wild animals are not afraid of humans anymore. Humans and wild animals are both afraid of each other. There are lesser forest spaces for wildlife now and that is the reason why so many interactions with wildlife are happening because they don’t have anywhere else to go. Because of deforestation, there kinds of wildlife and human interactions are becoming common in villages, although the city people have no such problems, mainly in villages inside forests. Cultural traditions are reducing. Amongst Toda people, all trees do not have cultural importance, only specific trees are important for cultural rituals. These type of trees are found more in Bhikapti mund, not so much in Ooty and other Toda villages. During times of festival, people from other villages who don’t have trees of cultural importance, will come and take the plant from Bhikapti mund and go to their village and celebrate their festivals. There is a specific Shola forest grass used for constructing Toda temples. Earlier this grass used to grow abundantly, but now, because of the invasive species like eucalyptus trees that drink up all the groundwater, these grasses have dried out. This grass does not grow anymore but other types of invasive grasses have increased.” Continues Peetagari.