May 28, Kanchanpur, Fire in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve that began three days ago has reportedly caused extensive damage to wildlife as well as flora and fauna in the reserve.
The fire has already spread in an area of 15 kilometers with Paliya, Malubela, Barkaula, Majhagaon, Chandmari and Baba taal area severely affected, according to Chief Conservation Officer Bed Kumar Dhakal.
More than 70 Nepali Army personnel and 15 staff of the Reserve Office are working round the clock to bring the fire under control. “Though no reports have been received of any casualty to the protected animals, it has certainly put them in danger”, added Dhakal.
Dhakal also blamed the locals living around the vicinity of the Reserve of setting off fire in the reserve with the belief that it would lead to growing of new green fodder and mushrooms. “We take the fire under control in one location but then they start it in another”, he said. Unless the locals take ownership of the Reserve it is very difficult to contain the incidents of fire at the lone effort of the Reserve, Dhakal added.
Incidents of fire in the Reserve have been reported for 15 times already in the Nepali month of Jetha alone. The fire has also forced protected animals inside the Reserve to move locations and thereby increasing the risk of poaching, which has alerted the forest guards in the area. The Reserve office meanwhile is collecting full details of the damage caused so far by the fire.