The unseasonal rain that lashed parts of south-interior Karnataka on Friday has brought temporary respite from the scourge of forest fires in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the region. Though the rain was scattered to moderate and not widespread, it helped introduce moisture to the barren landscape. This is expected to postpone the fire season by atleast a fortnight.
In MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, there was moderate rain lasting almost 45 minutes to one hour on Friday in five of the seven ranges and the park authorities are confident this will help ensure adequate moisture till the first week of March.
V. Yedukondalu, Deputy Conservator of Forests, MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, said MM Hills, Palar, Ramapura, PG Palya, and Cowdahalli ranges received moderate to heavy showers while light showers in Hanur and Hoogyam. “The forests of MM Hills were still green and Friday’s rain will help enhance the moisture content which will help diminish the threat of forest fire considerably till the first week of March,” he added.
In the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, the rains were confined to buffer zones in Veeranahosahalli and Metikuppe but the core forests as such did not receive much rains. However, more rains have been forecast in the next 24 to 38 hours and the park authorities are hopeful that it will bring temporary reprieve to tide over the threat of forest fires. The fringes of Bandipur too received rains but given the dry deciduous nature of the forests, it is no major reprieve from the forest fires.
The forests and national parks in south interior Karnataka region face the threat of fire from the first week of February and it lasts till the onset of the pre-monsoon showers in May. Hence the authorities intensify vigil and appoint additional fire watchers to help douse any fire before it spreads to become a major conflagration. The region has a history of forest fires that tend to devastate large swathe of jungles and hence any unseasonal rain is welcome as it provides a temporary reprieve by reducing the number of dry days.