Environment News Service (ENS) Reports Fires in Nepal, 23 March 1999

Environment News Service (ENS) Reports Fires in Nepal 

By Deepak Gajurel

23 March 1999

Kathmandu, Nepal, March 22, 1999 (ENS) – Hundreds of hectares of natural forest in different parts of Nepal have been destroyed by fire during the past week. Some experts are blaming global warming for the unseasonably high temperatures.

The wildfires in the jungles of Sankhuwasabha, Ilam and Morang districts in the east and in Sindhupalchok district in the central region of the country have not been controlled so far, according to reports from Forest Department officials.

Red pandas, leopards, monkeys, deer, bear and other species of wild animals are reported to have died in the forest fires in Sankhuwasabha and Ilam. Official data on the loss of forest and wildlife is yet to come. But experts estimate that at least 200 hectares of forest land is swept by the fire. No estimation could be made on the wildlife toll, Forest Department officials say. Since the fire caught the forest of Letang in Morang, from the middle of the jungle it is speculated that it took Forest Department officials four days to detect the fire after it began to spread.

“We have not been able to control the fire because of extremely hot temperature that is spreading the fire faster than our endeavour,” says an official at the Forest Department. The Meteorological Department has recorded a record high temperature here since early March. Kathmandu recorded 31° C. Temperatures higher than 37° C have been recorded in the southern plains of the Terai region which is a record high during March, according the Department’s analysis.

It is widely believed that current spell of dry weather has been a major factor behind recent fires and epidemics that have claimed hundreds of lives in various parts of the country.

In the hill district of Jumla, where 139 people have died of influenza in the past few weeks, there has been no snowfall at all. This mountainous area is usually covered with snow at least twice a year.

(c) Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.

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