COIMBATORE: A fire that broke out in the buffer zone of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in The Nilgiris on Saturday has destroyed 50 hectares of forest vegetation. Tourists have been barred till Tuesday.
The fire broke out at Theppakkadu- Masinagudi road on Saturday afternoon and spread to Mandradiyar, Achakarai, Bokkapuram, Mayar and Singara forest areas.
Nearly 100 anti-poaching watchers, forest guards over 200 volunteers along with residents joined hands to put out the fire. After prolonged efforts, the officials were able to contain the fire on Sunday morning. The officials said that the fire could have been initiated by miscreants. They have also announced Rs 10,000 reward to those who help them identify the culprits.
Speaking to Express Deepak Srivastava Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Coimbatore Circle said that a major portion of the forest where the fire spread was covered with lantana and that he would inspect the area on Monday. “We will increase the number of men and necessary equipment incase of fire mishap in future to put of fire immediately since temperature is high till May and there is a high chances of forest fire... (sic),” said Srivastava.
Apart from MTR, several acres of land in Karadimadai in Madukkarai forest range were also destroyed. Some mango groves on the back side of Bharathiyar University near Maruthamalai were also damaged. Meanwhile, the forest department officials with the help of volunteers controlled a fire at Balaji Nagar near Maruthamalai hill. The fire erupted at 1pm and was doused at 4pm. Tamil Nadu forest department officials have also informed Kerala after a fire broke out in the Kerala forest boundary.
Over 25 captive elephants including a Kumki that were undergoing rejuvenation at Theppakadu camp were saved by the forest staff, tribal and volunteers from the wildfire.
In Bandipur Tiger Reserve
While forest officials claim 2,500 acres of pristine forests in Bandipur Tiger Reserve have been ravaged in the forest fire, the ground reality seems to be a lot more devastating. Nearly 10,000 acres of forest in two wildlife ranges of Bandipur Reserve have turned into ashes after four days of fire.