The Forest department, which has taken measures to prevent wildfire in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, is now planning a ‘free safari’ for farmers living on the periphery of the forests, to instil confidence among them and to prevent man-made fire, during summer.
There is a constant conflict between farmers and department officials due to wild animals attack. This leads to miscreants setting fire to the forest. In an effort to prevent this, the department has planned to create a bond between the farmers and the officials. It will be offering free safari for farmers and their family members once a week, on Mondays, into Bandipur forest.
The Bandipur Forests was partially destroyed due to wildfire last summer. It was claimed to be man-made. The Forest department invited the wrath for its alleged poor management techniques. Thus, the department is taking precautionary measures to prevent fire outbreak this year. The ‘free safari’ for farmers, would create a bond between the farmers and the forest, and the wild animals.
Bandipur Tiger Project Director T Balachandra told DH, “It is not possible for the department personnel alone to protect the forest, despite heavy bandobust. We need the support of the locals. If awareness is created among the farmers, there is no doubt the forest and its resources will be protected.”
Any farmer, possessing an identity card issued by the Panchayat Development Officer, or Department of Agriculture, will be allowed free safari in the forest. The department personnel will explain the importance of forest and its benefits to farmers, he said.
A few miscreants had set fire to the forest, claiming attack on domestic animals by tigers and leopards. More than 11,000 acres of forest was destroyed. Hence, the department is not leaving any stone unturned. It has decided to take the locals into confidence.
The farmers are happy about the Forest department’s new plan of free safari and hope that their relationship with officials will improve and put an end to man-made fire in the region.