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Rashmi Ranjan

The world famous Similipal biosphere reserve in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha is once again under the clutches of wildfires for the second year in a row. 

According to sources, seven more fire points have been reported at Similipal biosphere reserve - six points in Talabandha range and one in Chahala range. 

The outbreak of the blaze in the reserve has put the lives of a number of species of fauna and flora, many rare and richly medicinal in value, under serious risk of destruction in the period of last three days.

Fire fighting units deployed in the mitigation operation have informed that the control measures have so far resulted in little progress due to rapid rise in the spread of the fire owing to high temperature and extremely dry condition.

Forest department officials have arrested as many as five persons on charges of setting fire in Naana range in Similipal forest reserve with an intention to hunt wild animals.

Weapons and other equipment used for hunting have been seized from their possession, informed ACF Pradip Kumar Dey.

“The conditions are not favourable to fight the wildfire. It takes around one to one-and-half hour to cover two kilometres due to steep terrain. But all efforts from our side is on to douse the forest fire,” explained Arabinda Nayak, Gudugudia range officer.

In March last year exactly a year ago, massive forest fires gripped vast stretches of Similipal, India's largest biosphere reserve, grabbing national/global media attention.

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