Valparai’s Lion Tailed Macaque Bridge shows how we should co-exist with nature - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Valparai’s Lion Tailed Macaque Bridge shows how we should co-exist with nature

The lion tailed macaque tree bridge over the Valparai forest highway

This old world monkey endemic to the Western Ghats of South India was once on the world’s 25 most endangered primates list. Today, it is no more on this list and its numbers are slowly increasing to healthy numbers. And all thanks to simple, yet effective wildlife conservation efforts by the government, forest department, local authorities, wildlife enthusiasts, plantation owners, locals and others.

A Lion Tailed Macaque Crossing on the Valparai Forest highway near Puduthotham
I am talking about the lion tailed macaque, an arboreal rainforest dweller who prefers the upper canopy of moist evergreen forests. There was a time when their numbers thrived along with the rest of the forest species. Then their forest habitat started fragmenting as humans started timber harvesting and building exotic plantations like tea, coffee, rubber, etc and villages on the edges of the forests started burgeoning into large towns, cities and hill stations. This led to a drop in their numbers. Lion tailed macaques were killed while crossing the highways and humans were either killing them for meat or to protect their fruit trees and crops.

The endangered primate - Lion Tailed Macaque

Today, there are beautiful bridges that connect the upper canopies of the trees on either side of the Valparai forest highway.  These bridges have been built keeping the lion tailed macaque in mind and is aimed at preventing these primates from getting down from their trees and crossing the forest highway on foot. You can see these bridges near the Puthuthottam estate (just a few kms before Valparai town) in the buffer zone of the Anaimalai tiger reserve where these lion tailed macaques frequent every day in search of food. These bridges prevent vehicle and macaque conflicts and thus reduce stress for the lion tailed macaques. A lot of effort from the forest department and the locals is key in building and maintaining these bridges.

A Lion Tailed Macaque Portrait
This is another example of how we can happily co-exist with mother nature, even if it means it is a old world monkey. Yes, we did usurp their forests by building towns, highways and plantations. But, it is never too late. We can set the balance right. The lion tailed macaques of Puthuthottam show us that they trust us humans. They have left their strictly arboreal nature and come to the ground level to feed and forage. They are happy near our homes, tea factories and farms. They keep us close, but still maintain safe distance, which is good in a way. We humans should also be happy to see them at close quarters while keeping our distance from them.

This is a story of Valparai’s lion tailed macaque bridge and how we should and can co-exist with our wild denizens.

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