A major fire that engulfed in the famous Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in Gondia district, some 125 kms from Nagpur affected around 400 hectares of rich forest cover and injured wildlife animals, particularly different species of reptiles.
According to reports reaching in Nagpur on Thursday evening, the fires have destroyed bamboo and fodder worth crores of rupees and affected small fauna and avian life. Many animals and birds are also feared to have died in the blaze and the forest personnel are still struggling to control the fire that began on Tuesday.
Though the wildlife wing here claimed that after three-day battle, the major fire was prevented, as forest personnel had formed the fire lines, the situation is still alarming.
Although experts and forest officials say wild fires occur in the sanctuary every year, around this time, they admit that, this year, the Tuesday fire was purely due to collectors of “mahua” flowers and tendu leaf (beedi patta), who deliberately do it for generation of better tendu leaf and easy way to collect “mahua” flowers from the jungle. Ironically, collection of tendu leaf and “mahua” flowers is banned in wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
The chief conservator of forests (CCF), wildlife wing of Vidarbha region, Dr Nand Kishore maintained that not a single wildlife was affected in the firing. But junior forest personnel, who are working in the field, said that the fire either killed or injured many small animals, though the big animals and trees were not affected.
Wildlife animals, like tigers, panthers, bisons, sambar and spotted deer have started migrating from the sanctuary to the neighbouring general forests. The fire also affected the water holes and lakes in the reserves as they were drying up. This may lead to a major problem for the wildlife, particularly this summer.
Nagzira sanctuary spreads over 152.81 Sq kms. It has approx 35 species of mammals, 165 species of birds, 35 species of reptiles and four species of amphibians. It is also the home to a variety of wild animals, including a few endangered species namely the tiger, panther, bison, sambar, nilgai, chital, wild boar, sloth bear and wild dog. As many as nine big cats were spotted in the sanctuary in the latest census.