Wildfire in Northeast India harmful to rich biodiversity

The combined forces of Army, Indian Air Force (IAF), para-military and state authorities along with hundreds of volunteers and locals on Monday continued to battle the raging week-long wildfire in the famous Dzukou Valley on the Nagaland and Manipur borders, officials said.

Forest officials of Nagaland and Manipur said that the inferno, which began on December 29, has destroyed much of the pristine forest, seasonal flowers, flora and fauna and harmed the rich biodiversity of the valley, which is a globally famous trekking site too.

Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Johnny Ruangmei said on Sunday over phone from Kohima that the wildfire is ‘reasonably controlled’ and it was expected to tame the raze fully in a day or two.

The Dzukou valley, 30 km from Kohima, also is a sanctuary for the endangered Blyth’s tragopan – Nagaland’s State Bird – and other species of birds and animals.

The iconic valley, situated at an altitude of 2,452 metres above the sea level, is a popular tourist spot and also famous for its seasonal flowers and biodiversity. Often caught in a boundary dispute between Manipur and Nagaland, it also has been prone to wildfires.

Members of the SAYO, which run an adventure-based conservation programme, tackled such fires in many cases earlier. In 2006, the wildfire affected a 20-km stretch of the southern part of Dzukou valley.

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