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Fire engulfs over 300 hectares at Jaisamand wildlife sanctuary

Udaipur : Flames have been spreading past three days inside the Jaisamand wild life sanctuary in Udaipur district and activists claim it  has affected some 35 sqkms area  and feared to have killed birds, reptiles, rodents and wild animals. The sanctuary which is spread in some 52 square kilometeres is divided into two blocks- Maniyol and Dhuni-wala block. The Maniyol block stretch covers  some 46 sq kms while the other part encompass  6 sqkms  area. The forest fire reportedly set off from the northern side of the Maniyol block from Adwas area which spread  to  Junidhar, Dabana, Ghatla, Chand Ghati,Palodara, Rakheshwar Mahadev,Jhoomar  Bavadi and destroyed the multi-storied layer of forest i.e from grass to crown,activists claim. However,forest authorities refuted all claims and said that it was only a ground fire that burnt dried leaves and grass.

” There has been zero loss to wild life or even trees.Only the grass has  burnt”  said Rahul Bhatnagar, theChief Conservator of Forest. The timely intervention by the forest team has evaded any disaster, he said.  ” There had been only three places where the flames had reached that includes Gamdi, Nandvi and Peeladhar. After non-stop efforts by our forest staff, we have managed to control 3/4 of the fire, operation is still on” DCF (wildlife) Harini V.told  Udaipur Kiran. According to forest authorities, due to the marriage ceremonies villagers didnt turn up to help and those who came a day ago were dehydrated and exhausted after toiling under the scorching sun to hold the flames. ” We induced the manual fire beating technique, counter firing mechanism to put off the flames as no fire brigades could lift water to the upslope area  which was affected” Harini informed.

According to sources, the fire was reported in the afternoon hours of April 17 and all the efforts to control the flames  proved futile due to ample fire fighting devices including fire  extinguishers, helmets.  Activists and villagers claimed there are four to five  fire lines in the area, developed as per the santuary rules to control flames,however, due to negligence and lack of timely maintainance of the fire lines the natural mechanism to hold fire too failed in preventing the flames spread to other compartments. The sanctuary is home to Ruddy mongoose, Cantor’s black headed snake, hill stream fishes, known to have six leopards, porcupine, fox, jackals, Hyena etc. Besides animals, the forest has rare medicinal herbs like Kalihari, Ananatmool,Chitrak, Kali Moosli, trees like Tamarind, Gondal, Mahua grooves etc.

Will take decades to rebuild this forest system

Jaisamand forest is one of the good habitat of edapho-climax forest dominated by Anogeissus pendula (Dhonk). ” This signifies that the forest has gone through all stages of natural development (ecological succession) and has reached the climax stage where no further change in major vegetation will occur, unless it is destroyed by any human or natural cause. Likewise the soil quality also undergoes development along with the vegetation and also attains the climax stage of stability. Experts claim, authorities need to be very careful and sensitive to fire incidents, though no major fires have been reported in the area since many years.

If any destruction due to fire affect  the edapho-climax forest up to irreparable extent, the climax too would exhaust and the forest would re-develop with altered composition of vegetation” Dr Sunil Dubey, a wild life enthusiast warns.

The impact is, on the entire food chain that has developed and loss of micro habitats of small organisms, pollinators, other insects, reptiles, birds and small and big mammals. The redevelopment of stable forest and establishment of self-sustaining food chains, food webs will take long time up to many decades.

 

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