Officials of the three States open line of communication to monitor fresh outbreaks of fire in the region
With the Wayanad forest turning into a virtual tinderbox, Forest Department officials in Kerala have joined hands with their Karnataka and Tamil Nadu counterparts to chalk out various strategies to curb forest fire.
B.N. Anjan Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forest, Wildlife, Palakkad, along with senior personnel visited the Mudumalai and Bandipur tiger reserves on Tuesday and interacted with officials in the neighbouring States on measures to be adopted to prevent the spread of fire to adjacent forest zones.
“We have constituted a WhatsApp group of wildlife managers of the forest zones, exchanged mobile phone numbers of senior forest officials to alert forest fire incidents and ensured mutual cooperation,” Mr. Anjan Kumar told
According to officials, 119.77 hectares of forest cover in the district, including 51.1 hectares in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, 62 hectares in the South Wayanad forest division, and 6.67 hectares in the North Wayanad forest division, was destroyed in the fire that raged from February 21 to February 23.
Wildlife managers suspect that the incidents were man-made as they were reported from 26 different sites almost simultaneously.
A section of the people at Vadakkanad under the sanctuary had threatened to set fire to forests after the Forest Department failed to capture a habitual crop-raiding elephant. Though the fire was brought under control in the forest divisions, residual fire in the area and recurring fire outbreaks in adjacent the Bandipur and Mudumalai tiger reserves were still posing a serious threat to the wildlife in the area.
Fire outbreaks in the tiger reserves have triggered a large-scale exodus of wild animals to the Wayanad sanctuary. Migration to the Wayanad sanctuary for fodder and water is a usual phenomenon at this time of the year, but the present exodus seems to be a massive one, say officials. They fear that the mass exodus of wildlife may result in more incidents of man-animal conflict in the Kerala side of the forests.
“We are monitoring the situation and action would be adopted in accordance with the situation. The fire in Bandipur and Mudumalai has been brought under control with the assistance of a team of frontline staff from the sanctuary,” N.T. Sajan, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary warden, said.