BANGALORE: The inquiry report on the devastating forest fire at Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole, which completely burnt a core area of 509 hectares recently, said, “It was deliberate, planned and executed in 15-20 places, comprising heavy stock of flowered bamboo as well as precious dead and fallen material on the ground.” According to the report, the fire has caused immense damage to flora and fauna, including reptiles and amphibians.
However, birds and large mammals like tigers and elephants have been spared.
Speaking to Express, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), B K Singh, who headed the probe, said, “I am 100 per cent certain that the fire was man-made and was done to defame the forest administration, which has been doing a good job and taken all measures to create fire lines before the start of the season.
We are trying to find the people behind the conspiracy.” “Any forest fire is a challenge and what with the ground flora, including the lantana (unwanted weed), germinated seedlings of bamboo and the ground litter totally burnt, the eggs as well as young ones of insects, frogs and reptiles destroyed forever, this is indeed a very big challenge for us,” Singh opined.
“It is good that lantana is gone, but now the problem is that after the fire it will come back with a big bang, which is ecologically bad.
Now, we are planning to flood the affected core area with bamboo and grass seeds by May last week or June first week, just before the first showers,” he added.
“Fortunately, the prey population (deer and other herbivores) has not been affected and we have even sighted four pachyderms in a burnt patch and they will temporarily migrate to adjoining areas,” Singh stressed, adding, “0.5 square kilometre of the core area, which is burnt, is actually five per cent area of a single tiger as 10-12 tigers are based in a territory of 100 square kilometres.” The PCCF (Wildlife), who has submitted his inquiry report to the State Forest Minister said, “The recovery period from such a devastating fire may be two years but if the lantana comes back with a vengeance, which is difficult to remove physically, it may take even 10 years for this tiger habitat to return to its original, pristine state.”