Wildfire ravages core area of Palamu Tiger Reserve

Published on Mar 31, 2021 10:01 PM IST

Devastating wildfire has gripped forests of core area of Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Latehar and efforts to douse it were proving inadequate

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ByVishal Sharma, Latehar

Devastating wildfire has gripped forests of core area of Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Latehar and efforts to douse it were proving inadequate. Rising mercury and high speed winds coupled together to further fuel the already spreading fire.

PTR deputy director (south division) Mukesh Kumar said, “The situation is alarming. Wildfire during this time of the year has no precedence in PTR. The high temperature and strong wind flow has made our task to douse it even tougher.”

As per available information, the wild fire picked pace on Tuesday afternoon. Forests in critical tiger habitats such as Kujrum, Ramandag, Rud, Baresanrh and other areas were also in the grip of the fire even as the field staff and members of quick reaction team were trying to douse it.

Forest fires wildfire are generally caused due to burning of dried leaves by locals for picking up Mahua fruit as they enter reserve forest to collect it.

Officials have not divulged details regarding loss of wildlife due to the fire so far.

“Generally, the fire season begins in May-June. But this year, it has already gripped forests in Kujrum, Ramandag, Rud and other areas. The local eco-development committee (EDC) members have been pressed into the dousing operation along with field staff,” Kumar said, adding that the unusually strong winds also rendered fire line ineffective this time.

Noted wildlife expert Dr DS Srivastava said, “Lack of community participation in fire management seems to be the root cause of spread of fire to such a large scale. Locals have to be involved in forest management if such incidents are to be averted in future.”

Locals burn dry leaves for Mahua picking in remote area. However, they earlier used to ensure that fire does not spread to other areas collectively. They doused it on the spot, Srivastava said, adding that no loss of wildlife was reported so far, but birds and reptiles living on ground must have suffered.

Meanwhile, the fire also gripped parts of forests along National Highway-75 at Amjhariya, Siknee, Komo, Jognatand, Manika and other places.

In Latehar, the local MLA rushed to the spot with a team of officials on Tuesday night on getting information about the fire approaching the district headquarters. Later, fire tenders extinguished the high flames.

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