The Similipal forest in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha was seen engulfed by forest fire for the last few weeks. The Forest department personnel are working their best to douse the flames.
Despite several preventive measures to check forest fire, several parts of the Similipal forest continued to be razed by the blaze, thereby endangering precious flora and fauna. The fire that broke out in isolated places of Similipal in early February has spread to eight forest ranges and is raging, although the State government said the core area of the biosphere was as yet untouched by the fire.
Similipal forest is spread in an area of 2,750 square kilometers. Eco-tourism has been organized in an area of 2,200 sq km. The Similipal sanctuary is home to 55 species of animals, 304 species of birds, 62 species of reptiles, 37 species of fish, and 108 species of trees.
Keeping in mind the safety of the forest, Similipal in Mayurbhanj district has been divided into two parts. Two Deputy Directors have been posted in the forest range offices. However, the officials have failed to bring an end to the spread of fire in the sanctuary.
Many forests under the Karanjia forest division are also under the blaze. Moreover, the blaze has also engulfed forests in Thakurmunda, Kendumundi, Naona, Gudagudia, Bareipani, Dudhiani, Satkosia, and other parts.
Reports suggested the practice of collecting ‘mahua’ flowers by tribal people could be one the reasons behind the outbreak of the forest fires. Many claimed that hunters too are responsible for the fire who set fire at places of the jungle for poaching. Due to the fire, animals, reptiles, and precious trees including medicinal plants are destroyed. Forest officials are taking necessary steps to maintain the fire line.
Officials said unprecedented dryness caused by early arrival of summer had aided the fire.
“Local people usually set sal leaves lying on ground on fire to collect Mahua and other non-timber forest produce. The heat-wave condition in Mayurbhanj aided the fire. Luckily, the core area of the Similipal National Park does not have any major fire,” said J. D. Pati, Deputy Director Similipal.
(With IANS inputs)
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