India — A forest fire swept through several hectares of jungle area behind Sukhna Lake on Monday afternoon, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction. Apart from gutting young trees and bushes, the blaze is suspected to have caused damage to ground-dwelling fauna.
The shrub jungle, which has become like a tinderbox because of rising dry heat, cracked as the powerful fire ‘ swept by fierce winds ‘ advanced on the right side of the jeep track, meandering through 3.5-km forest strip ending at Lake Club.
Only one forest department labourer, Babu Ram, is deployed in the area to look after this jungle that is teeming with wildlife. Three species of ungulate ‘ sambhar, spotted deer and blue bull ‘ are found here, along with raptors such as oriental honey buzzard, crested serpent eagle and shikra hawk.
The jungles are also full of red junglefowl and were the staging ground for massed migration of striped tiger butterflies this winter.
Snakes such as russel’s viper and Indian rock python are found here, along with many species of moths, butterflies and low-height nesting birds.
‘The fire could have been caused by a short-circuit. No deer has been found dead. Big trees like the eucalyptus are safe. The blaze has caused a lot of damage to bushes and shrubs. Our labourer, along with two other men, fought the flames very hard. The fire engines came later,’ said range forest guard Joginder Singh.
However, Babu Ram blamed miscreants who enter the forests for having deliberately triggered the fire.