Ooty: A wild fire that broke out at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) on Saturday evening damaged around 100 acres. The period between January and March is usually tough in forest management in the hills, as the drying woods become susceptible to forest fire.
The wild fire broke out in Mandradiar circle, spread fast and forest teams from different directions rushed to the spot to douse the fire. Stating that nearly 100 acres of jungle cover were damaged by the wild fire, Mr.V.A.Sara-vanan, deputy director of MTR, said that nearly 200 forest personnel, including forest firewatchers, sweated it out till midnight on Saturday to extinguish the fire.
In addition to the existing staff, 75 persons have been recruited as firewatchers to be on duty till March-end. Round-the-clock monitoring is underway over 321-sq km area of MTR, he said and added that the present fire looks to be man-made.
Investigation is on and forest teams are visiting hamlets in and around the jungles to educate villagers on the need to conserve the forest and co-operate with the foresters in jungle management.
Meanwhile, Mr. V.Sivadass, managing trustee of the Nilgiris Environment and Socio-cultural Trust, said that a forest fire is a big threat to jungle bio-diversity as it destroys small creatures, though big animals generally escape.
Combating forest fires needs better tech: Greens
Greens are voicing the need for new era fire fighting technology, including
using helicopters to douse wild fire and application of remote sensing techniques, to tackle forest fire in the drying conditions.
N. Sadiq Ali, founder of the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust here, said that the time has come to look at the technologies being used in Africa and other western countries to douse forest fire.
“In this cyber era, the Forest department should try using helicopters
to extinguish forest fires, as chopper is the fastest means for transport to reach the tough jungle sites and to pour down water and other fire extinguishing materials to douse the fire. Since, a lot of jungle wealth is destroyed in quick span of time during the forest fire, the state forest department should buy a helicopter equipped with fire-fighting techniques to be helpful during the fire seasons.
The forest department should try the remote sensing technology for
forest fire management,” he noted. This apart, the foresters should involve the tribes and other jungle dwellers by implementing the Mgnrega (rural jobs) scheme between January and March in the jungles for jungle perambulation and for fire-fighting process, Mr.Sadiq Ali added.
Meanwhile, V.Sivadass, managing trustee of Nilgiris Environment and Socio-cultural Trust, said that most of the forest fire appears to be man-made as some people living around the jungle peripheries make it a fun activity to torch the dried grasses and bushes in the jungles that eventually devastate the woods.
Mr. Sivadass said that the foresters should have a camera surveillance system in jungle borders to check entry of public or tourists into the woods. Village-level teams with mobile phone facilities around the jungles may be arranged for instant
communication in the event of any forest fires, he suggested.