BHUBANESWAR: As mercury spikes, incidence of wildfire in key protected areas including Similipal and Karlapat have begun to haunt the Forest Department in the State.
The Forest Survey of India statistics suggest that at least 56 large fire points have been detected in the State in last 48 hours of which 17 were reported on Sunday alone.
After Similipal Tiger Reserve and parts of Nabarangpur forest, wildfire surfaced in Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary, Chitrakonda, Rengali, Gudari, Mohana, Talcher and other forests in the State.
The incidence of forest fires has remained significantly less this year compared to the previous wildfire season. The number of fire points detected in the State during the fire season stands at 11,778 so far compared to 50,665 in 2021.
However, the concern is Odisha continues to be among top five States in terms of large forest fire events reported in the last one week. The State has witnessed 73 large forest fire incidents during this period while Madhya Pradesh is on top with 274 incidents followed by 156 in Jharkhand, 154 in Chhattisgarh and 84 in Bihar.
In Similipal national park, eight peripheral areas witnessed forest fire earlier this week. However, it has not reported any fire incidents in last two days, said officials of the tiger reserve.
Six drones are pressed in the Similipal landscape, while 1,000 fire squad members and protection assistants are on alert. Besides, about 500 blowers have also been kept ready to contain fire in STR, officials said.
Official sources admitted that poachers setting fire to hunt wild animals remains the biggest reason of wildlife in most of the cases in STR. Five persons were arrested from Nawana Wildlife Range of Similipal on March 29, while two persons had been apprehended from Sarangi range of Kapilash Sanctuary in Dhenkanal on March 23.
PCCF and HoFF Sisir Kumar Ratho couldn’t be reached for his comments in this matter. A senior official said that DFOs have been asked to remain alert and take preventive measures as per the district-level action plans formulated with the help of district administrations to prevent forest fire incidents.