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Dilip Kumar

Baripada: The raging wildfire in the Similipal biosphere reserve in Mayurbhanj district has forced the wildlife to enter human settlements even as Odisha’s Forest Department Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh on Monday claimed that animals in the core areas of the national park were safe.

The unprecedented wildlife emergency in the park was witnessed on Monday night when a spotted (barking) deer sneaked into the Brundeiposi village, located on the foothills of the Similipal sanctuary, to take cover from the raging forest fire.

The deer was subsequently rescued by villagers and the forest department has been notified.

“The terrified animal ran out of the jungle to escape the raging inferno. It took shelter in the house of Biju Maharana in the village,” said a villager.

"We have rescued the deer and kept it safely in a shed. The matter has been reported to forest officials," said Arjun Charan Naik, a local.

Khageswar Naik, a forest guard said "The deer seems to have run out of Similipal due to raging forest fire. The animal seems to be under shock out of fear though it’s doing fine."

The wildfire in Similipal sanctuary and its surrounding areas is posing a serious threat to wildlife. Fire at multiple locations in the large biosphere reserve area is shrinking wild habitat with the burning of shrubs and plants. To add to the woes of the distressed wild, the sudden rise in temperature has rendered watering holes drying up fast.

The forest fire that broke out in Similipal around a fortnight back has triggered global outcry for the ecological disaster.

However, on Monday Forest Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha claimed that the animals in the Similipal National Park and elsewhere in the forest were safe despite the wildfire.“There is no casualty (of wild) so far and the government has initiated action to control the spread of fire in the forest," he had said.

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