Twenty acres of the world famous Bhitarkanika sanctuary in Orissa was ravaged by a deadly fire on Tuesday. The valuable mangrove forest in the sanctuary has also been badly burnt.
The local villagers notified the forest officials, who rushed to the spot to control the fire.
The fire broke out in a forest near Krishnapriyapur village and was caused by honey-collectors, according to sources.
“The forest is susceptible to fire because the leaves and twigs have dried up and can catch fire from even a half-burnt bidi. Since forest fire spreads wildly it is difficult to control the same. However, with the help of the villagers this fire has been brought under control,” a forest department officer said.
This is the second worst fire accident in Bhitarkanika. Earlier, in 1998, about 100 acres of land had been ravaged by a forest fire.
Locals said that the honey-collectors used fire to drive away honeybees, which triggered off the fire.
Bhitarkanika, 130 kms from Bhubaneswar was declared a wildlife sanctuary (672 sq. km) on 22 April, 1975.
The sanctuary is home to the largest number of estuarine crocodiles in the country.