A major fire broke out at Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve which resulted in the devastation of hundreds of acres of land. However, the fire, which had gone on for nearly five days before it was doused, has not only gutted over 400 acres of forest land but has also hurt hundreds of animals on February 23, reported The Times Of India. While yesterday, February 25, reports suggested that the fire was doused, it seems that fire broke out again.
However, officials say that every time since the fire was doused, it broke out again and it seems that it is an act of someone deliberately reigniting the fire. “It is an act of vandalism, of revenge. Somebody would have done something wrong and been penalised by the range officers for it. They wait until February when they know the winds are high and the forest is extremely dry and then start the fire,” said Punati Sridhar, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) and head of forest forces, Karnataka, reported Livemint.
Bandipur park gutted in fire
Reportedly, the fire had begun on Thursday, February 21 and despite efforts by the fire fighting officials to bring it under control, the fire continued to spread for the next three days, primarily due to strong wind velocity and dry grass. The News Minute reported that as a result, over 70% of the forest, spread over more than 500 acres across its six ranges were reduced to ashes.
An activist told The News Minute, “There have been no eye-witness accounts yet reporting damage to wildlife but we expect the damage is bad since the fire has spread to the core forest areas. Deer were seen running away from the fire. This is also breeding season for reptiles and there are ground-nesting which we expect will be affected.” As a precautionary measure, the forest officials had to put stop tourist vehicles from entering the forest area since Friday, February 22 and stop issuing permits for forest safaris as well.
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy tweeted, “We are closely monitoring the forest fire in Bandipur. Forest Minister is overseeing preventive action and forest officials and fire service personnel are trying to contain the fire. I have instructed officials to also take preventive measures for the future.”
We are closely monitoring the forest fire in Bandipur. Forest Minister is overseeing preventive action and forest officials and fire service personnel are trying to contain the fire. I have instructed officials to also take preventive measures for future.#Bandipur #fire
— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) February 24, 2019
Deliberate attempt to start a forest fire
Meanwhile, Punati Sridhar, principal chief conservator of forests told The Times Of India that the officials have not found a definite clue about those who started the fire deliberately and are continuing with the probe as well. Deemed as one of the most devastating forest fires in the state, the fire spread across Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta (GS Betta) and parts of Kundakere and Maddur ranges.
In another case of forest fire, over 20 acres of forest land was gutted after a fire broke out in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu on the afternoon on February 23. Reportedly, the fire had broken out in five locations simultaneously. According to the Hindu BusinessLine, the fire broke out in the Theppakkadu-Masinagudi Road and spread to nearly 100 acres of land. Forest officials and tribals had made tremendous efforts to douse the flames.
The Bandipur Tiger Reserve covers an area of 87,400 hectares and is located at the tri-junction of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is one of the most ecologically diverse regions in India and houses some vulnerable species like elephants, gaurs and tigers among others. In the last few years (2017, 2016 and 2014) major forest fires had broken out in Bandipur during the month of February that resulted in wide-scale devastations.