Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2017-03-01 17:47 Bandipur: The recent forest fire in Bandipur Tiger Reserve has taken a toll on at least hundreds of animals both – ground and arboreal – many of them said to be Schedule 1 animals - endangered animals. Sources said 20 macaques including Hanuman Langurs, mouse deer, at least 15 peacocks and innumerable hares, reptiles and other ground species have been lost in the forest fire. At least one tiger cub is suspected to have died in the mishap. However, they are still gathering details to put up a final account of loss. Experts in the department including former forest officials observe that it is a grim situation with the core critical area being burnt down to a greater extent. “The National Tiger Conservation Authority officials who visited the affected area along with the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden BJ Hosmath and other officers are worried that the situation in the forest is grim and it would take lot of time recover," a senior official here said adding at least over ten thousand hectares of forest area has been burnt down. Another official said that the damage that Kalkere – a core critical area – has suffered in the fire mishap will affect the sanctuary in a worst manner. Pointing out that the staff did not create firelines anticipating the tragedy – which intensified the danger – an officer said “This year, summer appears to be severe. Firelines should have been drawn much before anticipating the trouble. But fire lines have been drawn only in the tourism area”. Besides, the fire watchers who went on a flash strike after the death of forest guard ‘Murigeppa Thammangol’ demanding compensation to his family also delayed time in dousing the fire. “The conservator had to literally plead the protesting watchers to help the department by paying from his pockets," sources said. However, T Heeralal, Conservator of Forests, Bandipur Tiger Reserve when contacted said that only two hundred to three hundred hectares of forest has been burnt down. “It is baseless to say the fire destroyed thousands of hectares,” he claimed. He also stated that only a few animals have died and no major loss. When asked over the unpreparedness of the department, Heeralal said the staff has drawn over 2000 kms of fire lines. They have been able to prevent the fire by working day and night. The brought down the extent of damage, drastically. I was also involved in dousing the fire. Death of the guard is an unfortunate incident," he said.