Wildfire burns 700 hectares of forest cover in ManangThe fire that started two months ago is spreading rapidly destroying forest resources and risking wildlife inside Annapurna Conservation Area.
Around 700 hectares of forest cover has been destroyed by a wildfire that has been raging in Manang district for the last two months. The wildfire that started in November last year has reached the Raindu forest area.
“The fire had started from the forests of Thanchok and Kote in Koto last month,” said Sol Bahadur Gurung, a resident of Tachai in Ward No. 8 of Nason Rural Municipality. “The forest floor is covered with dry leaves and woods. We have not been able to put the fire out.”
The fire is burning the forest resources and putting wildlife in danger.
Meanwhile, villagers have been trying to keep the wildfire from reaching their settlements.
The 700-hectare forest cover falls under the protected area of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project.
“The fire has become massive since December 28. The habitat of Himalayan Goral and Jharal (Himalayan Tahr) has been affected,” said Lekhnath Gautam, chief at the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in Lamjung. “The fire has also destroyed precious medicinal herbs including Yarsaguma and Panchaule.”
According to ACAP officials, wild animals like Himalayan Goral, Tahr, Musk deer and other deer species, snow leopards are at risk due to the wildfire.
“The areas affected by the wildfires would usually be covered by snow this time of the year. However, this year the area has not received sufficient snowfall,” Gautam said. “Excessively dry forest floor could have led to the wildfires in the area.”
The fire has spread in areas at an elevation of 3,000 metres to 5,000 metres where temperature can dip as low as minus 13 to 14 degrees Celsius. Heavy gusts of wind have only fanned the wildfire flames.
Chief District Officer Bishnu Lamichhane said security personnel from Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force and the local residents were making efforts to control the wildfire.
“A few days ago, we walked to Ward No 8 of Nason Rural Municipality for two and a half hours to douse the fire. We got the fire under control. But we couldn’t reach the other side of Raindu,” said Lamichhane.
Security forces and local residents have constructed a 500-metre long fire line to keep the fire from spreading into settlements.