Poachers Fuel Forest Fire to Settle Scores in Odisha

With the temperature soaring as the summerprogresses, the forests and wild animals inhabiting it are bearing the brunt of heat.
Poachers Fuel Forest Fire to Settle Scores in Odisha

ANGUL: With the temperature  soaring as the summerprogresses, the forests and wild animals inhabiting it are bearing the brunt of heat. Prolonged dry spell due to  scanty rainfall last monsoon has been cited as one of the reasons for the fires in the three forest divisions under  Angul forest circle, besides manmade factors. While forest fire has been  reported in nearly 18.23 hectares under Angul forest division in April, it was raging in 17.9  hectares in Satkosia Wildlife Division and 10.73 hectares in Dhenkanal  Division.

Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF) Sudarshan  Panda of Angul circlesaid personnel have been engaged in dousing the fire  and work is continuing on a war-footing in these divisions besides those of Nayagarh  and Athagarh. “Due to long dry spell and  scanty rainfall, the incidents of forest fire have gone up substantially not only in Odisha, but across India. However,  we are fighting the fire successfully by deploying a fire squad,” Panda said. Fortunately, all  the animals are safe in Satkosia,  where e l e - phant and tiger reserves exist,  he added. The situation in Satkosia forest is highly volatile as the dry leaves are  aiding in spreading the fire. The worrying factor is the forest fire in most cases was not natural but manmade.

People living in the  villages on the fringes of the forests are deliberately setting the trees on fire to settle scores   with sanctuary authorities for the anti-poaching drive being undertaken in these  areas. Two people were arrested for setting  the forest on fire. On interrogation, they revealed that they intend to  harm the officials due to their drive  against the poachers. According to official sources, there were 33 fire  incidents spread over 18 hectares of forest since the  beginning of current financial year. The worst affected areas are Labangi, Pampasar and Jagannathpur. Forest officials, however,  claim that there is no incidence of fire in the core area of the tiger reserve, Raigoda range, this year as precautionary measures were taken. 

Authorities claim that 170 watchers and anti-poaching squads in the sanctuary have been engaged in fighting the fire and some of them had to  be hospitalised due to sunstroke. “All the animals, including tigers in Raigoda and in  entire Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary, are safe. The fire is mostly on hilltops and near the villages and so far  we have controlled all butone area,” said Divisional  Forest Officer of Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary SMT Rahman. 

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