Short spell of rain brings relief from forest fires in Bandipur

While the rainfall on Friday was moderate to heavy, it was uniformly spread across the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.   | Photo Credit: M_A_SRIRAM ;M_A_SRIRAM -

A spell of unseasonal rain in the last two days in Bandipur National Park has provided temporary reprieve from forest fires. But this will do little to ease drinking water scarcity in Bandipur, which is going through one of the worst drought in recent memory with 321 out of 373 waterbodies having dried up.

While the rainfall on Friday was moderate to heavy, it was uniformly spread across the tiger reserve and is a welcome respite whose affect may last about a week.

Bandipur Tiger Reserve Director and Conservator of Forests T. Heeralal told The Hindu that the unseasonal rain has covered almost 90 per cent of the national park providing them the much-needed relief against any outbreak of fires for at least a week to 10 days.

It rained for nearly 20 minutes on Friday night and drenched the vegetation to provide a cooling effect, while fresh sprout of vegetation during the next few days will act as a barrier against fire. However, the intensity was not high enough to fill up the waterbodies.

Of the 373 waterbodies spread across 874 sq. km of the national park, 321 are fully dry. “In the remaining waterbodies, there is about 15% to 20% water left and it may not last long as summer is yet to set in,” said Mr. Heeralal. As a result, the authorities are trying to sink in new borewells, which will be energised by solar power and about 15 such solar-powered pumps are to be drilled across different ranges of the national park to meet the drinking water requirements of animals.

Though Bandipur has dry deciduous vegetation and the forests tend to be bone-dry during summer, at least 50% of the waterbodies have sufficient water in a normal year to last through summer. But the failure of south-west and north-east monsoon in 2015-16 and 2016-17 has left the waterbodies dry. This may escalate conflict situations though migratory animals are expected to herd around Kabini backwaters.

Meanwhile, the situation is equally grim in Nagarahole but the rain has provided relief against fires for at least a week. Park Director S. Manikandan said rainfall has covered Nagarahole range, Kalahalla, Antharsanthe, and DB Kuppe ranges.

Fire watchers roped in

The authorities have also roped in temporary fire watchers, who will be deployed at sensitive and fire-prone areas of the forests for the next 3 to 4 months till the onset of monsoon. Though Nagarahole has not experienced major fire so far this year, controlled burning went out of control resulting in the loss of vegetation and fire extinguishers were pressed into service to douse the flames.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 3:54:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/Short-spell-of-rain-brings-relief-from-forest-fires-in-Bandipur/article17109623.ece

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