A fresh incident of accidental fire was reported in Kali Tiger Reserve in Uttar Kannada district on Wednesday. It was doused by the evening.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that similar accidents have been a recurring phenomenon here in the past one month, particularly in parts of Kulgi, Gund, and Phansoli ranges, besides in areas in Sulageri, Kadra and Ulavi in Anshi range.
Vegetation has been destroyed and birds and small animals have died.
Chief Conservator of Forests of Dandeli Wildlife Circle Srinivasalu told The Hindu that though fire accidents had been reported from different parts of the tiger reserve in the past few days, they were restricted to an acre or less than an acre.
He said fire accidents were not unusual with the onset of summer.
While the Forest Department takes up roadside clearing during summer to avoid accidental fires in forest areas, negligence by those who venture into the forests was leading to fires. Lack of awareness among the people was a cause for concern.
Meanwhile, a wildlife activist, requesting anonymity, said that the Kali Tiger Reserve comprised the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and the Anshi National Park. Fire accidents had been occurring there for about a month now, which called for more effective preventive measures to save the precious vegetation and wildlife. There were fire accidents in these areas last year too.
The activist said that the fire blazed through some of the core areas and reduced vast swathes of jungle to cinders causing widespread destruction of ground vegetation, and death of innumerable insects, nesting birds and species like Malabar Giant Squirrel.
“Contrary to popular belief, most forest fires do not occur spontaneously and are often man made. While these fires are an annual occurrence in protected areas, the duration and intensity of the recent fires in the tiger reserve is a matter of concern. These forest areas are the favourite grazing land for herbivores such as chital, sambar, gaur and others which were the preys for carnivores such as tiger, leopard and dholes,” he said.
The KTR is contiguous to Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Khanapur taluk and the proposed Mhadei Tiger Reserve and other protected areas of Goa. They together form an important part of the 2200 sq km protected area in the Western Ghats. The Dandeli sanctuary and Anshi park had satisfactory prey density, a fact established by independent scientific studies and the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
The entire Dandeli-Anshi-Sharavati valley-Khanapur complex supported an estimated population of 33 to 40 tigers making it one of the prime tiger landscape in the world and the best scope for their long-term conservation, he said. With such a viable population of such highly endangered species, this landscape with six major protected areas and connecting forest reserves to be protected far more intensively from the known threat of forest fires, the wildlife activist observed.
“As Dandeli-Anshi are prone to forest fires every year, the Forest Department is expected to be on high alert. Controlled burning of fire lines during winter is critical to prevent forest fires and it is supposed to be completed by mid-January when there is moisture in the vegetation. Prevention of fires, vital for forest and wildlife conservation, is best achieved by reaching out to local communities and hiring sufficient number of people as fire watchers,” the activist said.