The fires seem to be both, a natural disaster and human-made mishap, according to experts
The fires raging over 2,750 kilometres in Odisha’s Similipal National Park and Tiger Reserve seem to be both, a natural disaster and human-made mishap, according to experts.
Around 90 per cent of forest fires were human-made, experts said. The probable reason for the fires could be a dry summer and carelessness by people who had been hunting and collecting Mahuli flowers.
Similipal has a unique microclimate: It sees occasional afternoon showers during the summer months that act as natural fire controllers. But some years, where dry spells last for more than two-three weeks, can be a disaster for the region.
Another reason for the fires is the high daytime temperature of around 40 degree Celsius in Similipal in the past two weeks. Odisha came top in the list of forest fire incidents with 23,325 fire spots since March 1, 2021, according to the Forest Survey of India’s fire alerts system- SNPP.
Similipal is home to 1,076 vascular plants, 93 species of orchids, 400 medicinal plants and many wildlife species. The fires are causing irreversible damage to the forest and its inhabitants.
Its countless ground fauna, including monitor lizards, mongooses, snakes and frogs are reduced to ashes in the blink of an eye. Millions of seedlings and seeds, along with medicinal plants, shrubs, creepers and trees that take decades to grow, are gone.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.