Illegal visitors suspected behind frequent incidents of wildfire

Even as summer rain continues to avert incidents of wildfire, the entry of careless trekking teams and suspected poachers into unguarded stretches along the Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary emerges as a fresh threat with no quick solution in sight.

Local residents living close to the forest boundary claim that illegal camp fires, and poaching practices have been found increasing in the absence of surveillance along vulnerable border areas.

The latest wildfire outbreak near Pookkunnumala in Balussery is one such incidents allegedly caused by unpermitted visitors to the spot. Nearly five acres of land have been hit by the incident. The loss is yet to be estimated by the authorities.

According to sources, cigarette butts not fully snuffed out have been causing huge safety threat in the area, which had come to the attention of the Forest Department many times. This was apart from other environmental pollution including the dumping of plastic waste and food items, they add.

“There was a huge fall in the number of illegal trekkers when the Forest Department intensified night patrol and appointed more watchers near the forest borders. Now, there is shortage of staff to continue with the patrol duty,” said a Forest Department official from Thamarassery. He said flying squads were mostly depending on confidential information given by local residents to track such attempts.

The suspected entry of poachers is a threat in areas where forest squads have limited access to the difficult geographical terrain. According to Forest Department sources, surprise inspections by flying squads sometimes fail owing to poachers’ secret connection with local sources.

“Earlier, there were many incidents of poaching porcupines by setting fire near its burrows, which had emerged as a safety threat. Now, people keep vigil against such crude practices,” said a forest watcher under Peruvannamoozhi range. He added that the dedicated work of Vana Samrakshana Samiti members helped the department ensure proper vigil.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 2:54:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/illegal-visitors-suspected-behind-frequent-incidents-of-wildfire/article34362499.ece

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