INDIA – BENGALURU: Recall the February 2017 blaze that reduced hundreds of acres of forest land in Bandipur to ashes and devoured a forest guard? To prevent recurrence of such tragedies this summer, the forest department is all set to press drones into action.
The drones which will be procured or hired by the department will hover over Bandipur forests and other fire-prone regions through the day to live-stream the situation inside the woods. A pilot in this regard is already on in a few forest ranges of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
Ambadi Madhav, director of the reserve, said, “We are well-prepared to prevent forest fires. Usage of drones will go a long way in assessing the extent of fires so that men and machinery can be deployed quickly to fight the flames. We conducted a pilot in two ranges of the reserve recently and understood that regular streaming of aerial forest views will help in tackling fire incidents,” he added.
Madhav said they have also created fire lines across the tiger reserve, covering more than 2,500km. “We have procured motorized fire sprayers, minivans with a 2,000-litre capacity and fire beaters among other things. In addition to drone monitoring, watch towers will be set up at strategic points,” he elaborated.
Bandipur is spread over 1,027sqkm and 13 ranges. Last February, forest guard Murgesh was charred to death when he along with other staffers was trying to douse the fire in Kalkere range of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
Forest officials say wild growth of lantana weed, which dries during summer, can turn a minor spark into a major forest fire. “We took the help of Nature Conservation Foundation, which assessed the extent of fire damage (through Google Earth Engine) using satellite imagery last year. We are taking their help this year too to identify problem areas and take required measures,” he added.