India The onset of summer has put officials and ground staff of the Forest Department in the district on high alert against possible forest fires, with the first such case reported from the Bhimgad wildlife range along the Western Ghats recently.
A forest fire broke out in a part of the range in Mendil village limits three days ago, confirmed Deputy Conservator of Forests Basavaraj Patil. He said there was no loss of animal life or greenery as the portion that caught fire did not have much grass or wildlife presence. Forest guards from Talewadi beat area and adjoining villagers had rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire, thus ensuring that dry grass and forest waste was burnt on less than 2 acres.
Meanwhile, sources say the fire broke out owing to the negligence of the range forest officer and forest guards, who were expected to maintain constant vigil in view of the rising temperature.
Sources in the know of forest issues said the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, when compared with other protected forest areas in the State, has certain unique characteristics such as being a mosaic of woodlands and grasslands, which make it one of the important tiger habitats in Karnataka. The vast grasslands here are the grazing areas for animals such as gaur and sambar, which form important preys for predators such as the tiger, leopard and dhole.
However, Mr. Patil said forest fires could not be ruled out during summer. But the department has taken certain measures to improve vigilance and prevent forest fires and offences against wildlife, he added. Modern blowers have been provided to Khanapur taluk, and they will come in handy while dealing with forest fires, he said.
Also, all the wireless sets have been repaired and are being used by guards and other officials in the forest areas, thus facilitating quick communication. Villagers have been advised against throwing burning beedis, cigarettes and other material while walking or travelling through forest areas.