Vegetation on about 100 acres destroyed, says Forest Department

A major forest fire was reported in the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve on Thursday and “preliminary estimates” by the Forest Department suggest that vegetation on about 100 acres of land has been destroyed.

The fire was noticed around noon near the forest check-post in Anechowkur Forest Range on Gonikoppa-Thithimathi Road. By the time the field staff arrived, the inferno had spread and engulfed the dry vegetation, mainly bamboo shoots.

R. Gokul, Conservator of Forests, and director, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu that the fire was under control and over 100 field staff had rushed to the spot. He said the area was covered by dense bamboo vegetation, which had dried up.

“We suspect that some mischievous elements could have torched the dry bamboo shoots,” Mr. Gokul said.

Well-planned act

“It appears to be a well-planned act as the weather was hot and windy with no moisture. Perhaps, those knowing the current forest condition could be behind it,” he said, ruling out the role of any locals, particularly tribals, in the incident.

Mr. Gokul said a detailed investigation would be conducted to the incident.

He said the fire from dry bamboo shoots engulfed the dry vegetation as the burning pieces of the shoot burst like crackers. The best way to douse it was to create “counter fires”, he said.

When contacted, Range Forest Officer Devaraj, who supervised the operation to extinguish the fire, said about 100 acres of shrub vegetation and dry bamboo shoots had been destroyed.

The fire spread on both sides of the road. Forest watchers from the Nagarahole, Kallahalla and other ranges have been brought to assist the field staff.

“We have been successful in controlling the fire from spreading. It is tough to create counter fires when bamboo shoots are on fire but we have done our best,” Mr. Devaraj said.

No casualty

He said there were no reports of casualty to wild animals. More temporary staff would be deployed in the area, Mr. Devaraj added.