Bandipur forest is blazing. Huge areas are lost in Kundakere, Bandipur, GS Betta ranges in the forest fire. The fire has destroyed 3000 hectares of forest in Bandipur Tiger reserve.
Event though the forest fire has burnt forest spread across four hillocks in three ranges, the worst being affected is Gopala Swamy Betta. According to NASA of the 80 plus fire sports, a majority we seen in the Gopala Swamy Betta range.
Fire at Tiger reserve – Bandipur:
A major wild forest fire has destroyed around 3000 hectares of forest reserve to ashes. The Fire brigade personnel, forest guards along with volunteers are trying to douse the raging flames inside the tiger reserve.
The fire is spreading fast into other ranges. The fire initially started in the Kundakere range of the reserves. It was dismissed as a stray case but became a roaring fire.
The forests which burnt down in the fire includes Gopalaswamy Betta ranges and part of the Kullana Betta areas of Bandipur covering a length of about 20 km.
Impact of Bandipur forest fire :
Due to the intensity of the fire, the Bandipur-Ooty highway was closed for some hours taking into account the safety of the passengers.
The forest had witnessed major fires in 2019 (1000 hectares), 2019 (2000 hectares).
Bandipur fire – other States :
The forest officials of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are fully prepared for counter-firing to contain spreading fire from Bandipur forest. The fire in the forest has crossed the Beya forest range which is close to Tamil Nadu and Kerala border.
The Tamil Nadu forest department is setting up a counter fire at Madumalai forest region where as Kerala forest authorities at Wayanad Forest.
Entry banned -Bandipur fire :
The entry is banned by the forest department authorities of devotees of Himavad Gopalaswamy Hill and adjoining areas. The Karnataka state Transport has suspended the bus services to the hill.
Movement of people and vehicles, including cars, buses and trucks have been banned on the National Highway-67 and inter-state roads.
The safari at Tiger Reserve has been suspended for a week.
Rage over fire :
Many retired IFS officers, conservationists and activists are blaming the bureaucrats for the lapses. At present the Reserve does not have a permanent field director.
The same lapse in 2012 and 2017 had cost the department the death of a forest guard.
Impact on Wild life :
The fire is reducing the thick forest area into ashes from Kundakere range towards GS Betta range. Several mammals were displaced . Many deers and herds of elephants are spotted running scared towards road or into adjacent farms.
Several reptiles and birds are said to be burnt completely in the fire.