'5,000 ha of Bandipur, Nagarhole destroyed'
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on Monday in its report revealed that the forest fire has destroyed over 3,500 hectare area (ha) of Nagarhole and 2,000 ha of Bandipur tiger reserve.
Wildlife biologist and NTCA member, K Ullas Karanth, cited some of the earlier reports pertaining to forest fire and said the extent of fire is underreported by local forest officials for various reasons.
The report titled ‘A rapid assessment of recent forest fires in Nagarhole and Bandipur tiger reserves,’ had cited information gathered from various local sources about the locations and extent of forest patch burnt and active fires detected by MODIS sensor onboard TERRA and AQUA satellites of NASA (corrected for park boundary delineation errors) as well as an examination of RESOURCESAT satellite images available from the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).
Karanth said 6.1 per cent of the forest cover in Nagarhole was damaged. The charred areas included the Anechowkur range (777 ha or 7.7 per cent of the forest), Veeranahosalli (173 ha or 2.3 per cent), Kallahalla (76 ha or 0.7 per cent), Metikuppe (1,352 ha or 17.5 per cent), Nagarhole (1,452 ha or 14 per cent) and DB Kuppe (82 ha or 0.6 per cent) of the forest.
The Bandipur tiger reserve has lost 2,267 ha of forest which amounts to 2.6 per cent of its forest area. Moleyur and Moolehole have lost more than five per cent.
“The imagery provided by satellites also underestimate fire incidents and burnt areas because of possible influences of cloud cover, heavy smoke, lack of satellite coverage at the time of fire incidents and tree canopy completely obscuring the fire. However, I note that a few months later, better images are provided by both NRSC and NASA satellites, containing more accurate burnt area assessments. These usually are not sought and compared with assessments based on official reports,” says Karanth. The fire can’t be attributed to lack of financial and material resources (such as vehicles), timely availability of human resources such as staff and labour, as adequate funds are available now, he said in the report. The report states lack of attention and preparedness in some forest ranges appears to be among the major reasons for the fire.