Friday, April 25, 2008

Heat wave, water crisis hit wildlife in Orissa

Bhubaneswar ( Orissa) : With the increase in mercury, sun stroke death toll moving northwords in the State. The intense heat wave and declining water lavel in many reservoirs combinely spelling hard and hostile time to both people and wildlife equally in Orissa.

There is no respite of heat waves to wild animals. With each passing day wild animals including Elephants and Tigers in State's several Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries are now facing shortage of water.

The water crisis in many part of the state in this summer summer has been driving animals out of their habitat to quench their thirst but non-availability of waters has hit the daily life of wild animals and most of aged elephants and big cats have reportedly been suffering a lot.

"The situation in most forests is upsetting and disturbing as animals become more at risk to poaching and hunting once they step out of their natural habitat during summer," several wildlife activists said in Bhubaneswar.

More than 5,000 animals are killed every year as wildlife managers and officers fail to monitor the situation or take timely measures, they said.

They have also demanded Forest Department should chart out a water regime map with details of water-levels of each stream, river and locations of water pools and game tanks in different months.

Meanwhile, Satkosia Tiger Reserve region, rich in bio-diversity, is in grip of gnawing fire since past weeks. It is alleged that lack of precautionary measures by Forest Department authorities is the main cause behind it.

Both flora and fauna are in a state of peril. The anti-fire fighting measures this year seems to be absent going by the severity of fire there, feels wild life activists.

Reports say that forest fire is on at more than 40 places in the sanctuary. The worst affected areas are Kuru, Baghamunda, Pampasar, Raigoda, Labangi, Tuluka, Tikarapara, Majhipara, Godabhanga and Routbahal reserve forest areas.

The spreading fire associated with mercury touching 44 degree in forest has made the lives of animal population precarious.

Animals also reportedly face acute shortage of water.

Ironically there has been no Divisional Forest Officer in Satkosia Wildlife Division for last six months after the exit of Sushanat Nanda. The DFO of Angul Forest Division S Mishra is in charge of Satkosia since then, official sources said.

Official in Wildlife Wing of the State Forest Department however maintained that there were reports of Deer, Sambhar, Barking Deer and even Elephants moving out of their habitats in Keonjhar, Koraput, Nowrangpur, Dhenkanal, Athmalik, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Rairakhol, Kalahandi, Daspalla, Khandhamal, Khariar and Ghumsur forests. The situation in Simplipal forests, which is endowed with abundant water resources, however, has less acute.

The pachyderm population stands to suffer the most in the elephant corridors of Keonjhar, Narsinghpur, Athmalik, Dhenkanal, Kotagarh, Satkosia and Pallahara.

Forest Department personnel said that they have spotted three bodies of tuskers in the fringes of Athagarh Forest Division near Nuagada, Dalijoda and Khuntuni in the past week.

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