Once an ecological hotspot, Nilgiris face higher temperatures and changed rainfall pattern
Scroll March 03, 2024 01:24 AM

Vasanthan Panchavarnam came to Coonoor 30 years back on a transfer from Chennai as a physician. The hilly district stole his heart and he decided to make it his permanent home. When some friends who he hung out with became interested in exploratory walks, “We picked up the binoculars and started going around. The change we have observed is tremendous,” he told IndiaSpend.

Nilgiris is situated in the northwestern part of Tamil Nadu and the Western Ghats between 900 metres-2,636 metres above mean sea level. More than half (56%) of its total area is under natural vegetation.

Thirty years back, when Panchavarnam relocated, it was a quiet town with a flourishing local ecology. The rolling grasslands, dense woods and cool climate captured the hearts of nature lovers. But once it started attracting tourists and businesses, leading to landscape alteration and subsequent warming, the town started to lose its biodiverse verdancy, native flora, and wildlife.

Temperature, rainfall

Temperature fluctuations in the Nilgiris have been observed for the last two centuries and several references to it are found in books and hunters’ journals, Panchavarnam tells us.

The Neilgherries, a popular travelogue published in 1857 detailing the travels of medical superintendent Robert Baikie in the district, says that between 1831 and 1833, the mean temperature was 16.8 degree...

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