Come summer and national media is filled with news on droughts and forest fires. Thanks to searing hot temperature and low rainfall, this year is no different. The sight of these forests up the Chimmony earth dam in Thrissur district can dishearten any nature lover. Another International Forest Day is here, but where are the woods?
Unavailability of water up the hills and increasing atmospheric temperature has left the wild animals restless. Tigers and wild tuskers descend the forests and explore human settlements in search of fresh water and food. According to the forest range officials, there leopards, tigers and bison are often caught in the surveillance camera kept in the valley-side roads.
Wild elephants move in herds towards surrounding water bodies. They are very protective of their calves and hence, become aggressive at the sight of humans. The water reservoir at Chimmony was almost dry last season, until the land was recently blessed with some rains recently. Leopards too move out of their territory in search of prey and create panic in nearby areas.
A forest fire can destroy the flora and fauna a piece of land has acquired over centuries. It damages the herb-roots and animal habitats. Though lightening and forest fires are needed to sustain forests at large, its uncontrollable spread across wild terrains can cause huge loss of forest resources.
Forest fires have become a common phenomenon in the Chimmony reservoir belt. Either an external spark would set the flames or the dry deciduous reel and grass would burn in the dry, hot sun.
“We rush to the spot as soon as we spot fire up in the hills,” says Aneesh, a forest watcher. “We will have to trek for kilometers to reach the spot. The fire would have grown by then. Animals would be scattered from their herds. Predators make use of this panic to hunt. Thus, by all means, forest fire is a case of emergency,” he adds.
When we discuss about the need of 'ethical deforestation' for the purpose of power generation and plantation purposes, the protection of existing wildlife and the larger resource diversity is proving to be the need of time.