INDIA – Forest fires are a concern for people across the world. Even as Australia continues to battle the bush fires that have been ravaging the continent, back home, officials have been working tirelessly ensure that our forests do not fall prey to a blaze. A year ago, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve lost flora and fauna in over 10,000 acres owing to a massive forest fire, and officials are now trying to prevent a repeat by creating a 2,550 kilometre fire line.
Towards this, the forest department is undertaking clearing of vegetation and controlled burning of the same to create bald patches of land across the boundary line of the forest to prevent the wild spreading of a fire. Speaking to us, director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, T Balachandra, says, “We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that last year’s tragedy is not repeated. We have created 2,550 kilometres of fire lines in all 13 ranges of the Reserve. We are hoping to complete all work in creating fire lines to be completed in a week’s time. We have deployed temporary watchers in all ranges to prevent any illegal acts by miscreants that could spark a fire. We are also interacting with the villagers living on the fringes of the forest to create awareness about their role in protecting forests from fires.”
A wildlife enthusiast says, “Over the last two years, the ecology in Bandipur has been severely affected by forest fires. I hope the forest department has learnt its lessons from the previous mass destruction. Right now, everything is dry in Bandipur, so chances of it catching fire are high. But if we do get a few spells of rain in February or March, that could be averted. The forest department needs to be well-equipped to prevent forest fires.”