Similipal National Park’s biosphere reserve area caught fire in the month of February and has been continued for a week, and thanks to the god the fire has finally been put under control. During the dry weather conditions of the year, the forest reserved area of the national park faces a lot more cases like this one.
Similipal Biosphere Reserve:
The word ‘Simlipal’ refers to a tree named Simul which is a silk-cotton tree, the total land area of the National park and its neighbouring areas is 5,569 square kilometres, and the government of India declared this area in the eastern end of the Eastern Ghat as a biosphere reserve on 22nd June of 1994 and now, it is a National park and a tiger reserve located in the northern part of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha.
The National Park highlights the richness of biodiversity by the great variety of Flora and Fauna like 94 types of orchids, 3000 types of plants and 264 species of birds, 29 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians and around 42 species of mammals.
What was the ‘Intensity’ of the fire?
Maloth Mohan, the regional conservator of the similipal forest said that, now, the fire has been brought under control but, the number of fire points identified in the peripheral areas of the forest which are close to villages is about 399.
The history between the similipal forest and forest fires
In 2015, the last major forest fire was reported. The season when autumn is coming to an end and summers are going to start, this time is prone to forest fires. It is a repeating phenomenon that almost occurs every year. Also, the fire comes under control when a small amount of precipitation occurs like, 1.08 and 21mm rainfall has been recorded in the first two months of the year (January and February). When the autumn comes to an end and summer is going to start, at this time in the deciduous forests the trees start shedding their leaves and the leaves catch fire easily if there is a fire in a small part of the forest, the whole forest catches fire during this span of time.
Causes of these types of incidents in similipal
The activists and officials of the forest say that the main cause of the forest fires is the man-made factors, but there are more natural causes lightning and thunder, soaring temperatures, etc.
A wildlife activist, who worked for wildlife reserves for about 28 years is Bhanumitra Acharya, he shared some instance of hunting and poaching that when hunters used to come to the forest for hunting, they light a small fire to divert the animals and when their work is done, they don’t even drench the fire, this can lead to a major forest fire incident and mainly during the time when autumn is going to an end. A small spark can only lead to a major forest fire when the trunks and the leaves of the trees are dried up.
Burning the patches of Sal trees is good because it will grow better when planted again, this is the belief of the villagers. A drink is very addictive in nature which is made from the Mahua flowers and the villagers burn the dry leaves to clear the ground and to get the flowers easily.
Man-made factors are a major cause of causing forest fire but this time a wave of heat came before summer which made the condition worse.
The total population of the reserve is about 4.5 lakh and about 1,200 villages are located, 73 per cent of the total population is constituted by the Tribals.
The ways by which the forest fires can be controlled and prevented
Generally, forest fires can be controlled by natural rain only. But, there are many ways of preventing forest fires like:
• By forecasting the day which is more prone to fire can allow the members of the forest community to mitigate the fire.
• By cracking down the poachers and hunters.
• By creating the fire lines.
• By clearing the dried biomass from the forest.
Ways which should be followed by an individual of preventing fires:
• we should always extinguish fire pits and campfires when done
• We should not throw lit cigarettes from moving cars
• while using flammable liquids, we should be cautioned.
• We should report all unattended fires
• Only use fireworks in clear areas with no woods nearby.
This year, the forest service stepped up its conservation efforts, forming a team for each of the five divisions’ 21 ranges to keep a close eye on the situation and a total of 1,000 people were deployed, including 250 forest guards. The fire was put out with the aid of 40 fire tenders and 240 blower devices. To discourage such events, community-wide awareness campaigns are being implemented.