Bengaluru: The devastating fire that destroyed thousands of acres of forest land in Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve continued to rage on Sunday, stated forest officials. The forest officers took the help of fire service personnel, emergency service personnel and volunteers to douse the flames. They began their fire fighting operation on Saturday and went on till 4 AM on Sunday. Meanwhile, the fire has been successfully contained near Melukamanahalli, Bandipur area, stated a report.

The early morning mist had allegedly helped reduce the intensity of the flames. In the wake of the wildfire, the Safari at the Tiger Reserve in Bandipur has been cancelled by authorities as the safari zone has been destroyed in the disaster. The fire has in fact destroyed over 8,000 acres of Bandipur forest area except the areas considered to be critical tiger habitat. The forest is spread over 2.16 lakh acres. The fire also killed hundreds of animal species including snakes, rabbits, lizards and also turned thousands of trees into ashes.

The authorities have reportedly closed the Gundlupet-Ooty highway in an attempt to contain the fire. The major challenge posed to firefighters, forest staff and volunteers were the presence of strong winds. A report by The New Indian Express quoted a source as saying, “Over 150 people are working to douse the fire and more local tribal folk are expected to join hands. They are trying their best to check the spread of fire to NH 67 that passes through the national park.”

This is not the first time that such a forest fire is reported. During 2017, the then chief minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah ordered a Criminal Investigation Department probe into the Bandipur and Kappatagudda forest fires. “Formulate a plan to restrict such incidents of forest fire and steps that should be taken to control if it occurs again,” Siddaramaiah had reportedly said.

The Bandipur Tiger Reserve is known for maintaining the highest tiger population in the world. Out of the total tigers in India, Bandipur and Nagarahole Tiger Reserve have about early 25 per cent of the population.