JEYPORE: Wildfire in over 10 km radius in the reserve forest in Deoghat under Koraput forest division destroyed hundreds of trees on Thursday.
According to sources, some locals, who are celebrating the annual Chaitra festival, set on fire some trees in Deoghat forest that spans from Deoghat to Kolab reservoir. The leaping flames were visible even in Jeypore and Koraput towns which are located ay a distance of about 10 km from the reserve forest.
The dense smoke disrupted movement of vehicular traffic on Deoghat.
The wildfire has been continuing for the last 15 days in the district. It was noticed in the forests of Boipariguda, Jeypore, Narayanpatana, Bandhugam, Dasmantpur, Lamataput, Pottangi and Nandapur hilly areas as several tribal groups are on a mission for hunting in local forests under their ‘bento’ (hunting) spree.
The fire has so far destroyed 100 km of forest and affected wild animals in the intense heat. Several small wild species have reportedly died in the fire.
Forest department sources said guards are patrolling the forests during the day, but it is not possible to protect it from mischievous tribal groups after evening sets in.
What is worrying is that the hunting ritual of tribals would continue for the next 15 days and it is feared that more flora and fauna would be lost if immediate steps are not taken to control it.
“The Forest department should have spread awareness among the tribals well ahead of the Chaitra Parab to protect the forest cover from fire,” said Sada Tripathy, a green activist of Jeypore.