At least 38 forest fires have been reported in the wildlife reserves of Uttarakhand in the past three months that have destroyed more than 1,351 hectares of forest cover incurring loss of more than Rs 13 lakh, officials said on Wednesday.
The Corbett Tiger Reserve and Kalagarh Tiger Reserve–famed for its Royal Bengal tigers–reported 48 forest fire that destroyed 260.9 hectares of forest until Wednesday morning, senior forest officials said.
Forest fires were reported in tourist resorts of Bijrani, Sardpuli, Palen, Dhikala, Kalagarh, Maidavan, Jhirna and Sona Nadi of the reserves but there has been no wildlife casualty so far, some of them said.
More than 1,350 hectares of forest in the state has been destroyed due to fire this season incurring revenue loss of more than Rs 13 lakh killing two persons and injuring two others. A shelter was also gutted killing seven cattle in US Nagar.
“We are battling with three things–dry elephant dung that catches fire, strong winds and high temperature. We have deployed 75 additional daily wage workers and are also roping in locals to support us fight forest fires,” Sameer Sinha, director of Corbett Tiger Reserve told, Hindustan Times.
Rajaji National Park has reported 26 forest fires so far that has destroyed 70 hectares. Until Wednesday morning, fires were reported at Neelkanth and Motichur ranges, said Neena Grewal, director of the reserve. “The geographical location of the Shivalik ranges is a big challenge for us as time is wasted in covering long distance. But, we are working round the clock to control fire in the park,” she said.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary is the third wildlife reserve that has been affected in state from where 28 forest fires were reported, destroying 59.25 hectares of forest.
“Wildlife areas have been reporting regular forest fires but no wild animal has been killed in the fires so far. All protected areas are taking great care of their wild species,” said BP Gupta, nodal officer for forest fire.