BARIPADA: The disaster rapid action force joined the fire-fighting act at Similipal National Park as the State government mobilised manpower as well logistic support to control the wildfire in the tiger habitat.
Fifty personnel of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), divided into four teams, fanned out to both Similipal North and South divisions to tackle the wildfire and keep a tab on poachers. Besides, 20 teams of fire personnel are also deployed in both the divisions, Regional Chief Conservator of Forest (RCCF), Baripada Yogajayanand said.
At least 26 fire points were detected in Similipal on Tuesday and the forest officials said, the number of fire incidence was substantially down compared to past few days. Mayurbhanj Collector Vineet Bhardwaj said, the district administration is creating awareness among villagers against setting forests on fire while collecting mahua flowers.
Meanwhile, the fire spreading through the biosphere appeared to have scared a deer which entered the house of a villager of Jharafula under Jashipur range of Karanjia division to escape from the blaze on Tuesday. The one and half year old male deer sneaked into Biju Maharana’s house early in the morning. Villagers said, the animal may have entered the habitation in search of a safe place as wildfire is raging both in buffer and core areas of Similipal.
On being informed, forest officials reached Biju’s house and brought the animal to Jashipur range office. A veterinary team treated the deer following which it was released back in the wild. Forest range officer of Dudhiani Saroj Panda, who was part of the rescue team, said the reason behind the deer sneaking into a village is yet to be ascertained. However, the animal was given proper treatment before being released in the dense forest.
As it tackled the wildfire, keeping a watch on poachers taking advantage of the situation was also on priority of the officials. Dudhiani range officials arrested a 22-year-old man Salu Tiu for reportedly setting fire in Gudidiha reserve forest. A match box and a rabbit net were seized from Tiu’s possession. The accused was found setting fire in the forest on Monday night.
Panda said forest personnel engaged to control the forest fire nabbed Tiu when he was trying to flee the spot. During integration, he confessed to his crime and admitted that he was trying to set fire to poach animals. On Monday, one Pradhan Hembram of Ambotalia village was caught red-handed while he was setting Badampahar reserve forest on fire the previous night.
Tribal youths pray for protection of park
Baripada: A group of tribal youths on Tuesday offered prayers at Jahiresthan shrine in Khunta block seeking divine intervention to contain the raging fire inside Similipal National Park. One of the youths Suklal Marandi said they worshipped their tribal God for protection of the park.