Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

News: Recently, a massive fire broke out in the Similipal Biosphere Reserve in Odisha. The core area of the biosphere was untouched by the fire, however the fire is threatening damage to its rich biodiversity.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

  • Similipal, which derives its name from the ‘Simul’ (silk cotton) tree, is a national park and a tiger reserve situated in the northern part of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.
  • Similipal and the adjoining areas, comprising 5,569 sq km, was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India on June 22, 1994, and lies in the eastern end of the eastern ghat.
  • It includes three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary with 191.06 km2 (73.77 sq mi) and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary. It is the abode of 94 species of orchids and about 3,000 species of plants.
  • The identified species of fauna include 12 species of amphibians, 29 species of reptiles, 264 species of birds and 42 species of mammals, all of which collectively highlight the biodiversity richness of Similipal. Sal is a dominant tree species.
  • Generally, with the onset of summers and towards the end of autumn, the forest area remains vulnerable to forest fires. They are a recurrent annual phenomenon but are also brought under control due to the short span of precipitation. This duration coincides with the shedding of deciduous forests in the forest areas.
  • The fallen leaves are more vulnerable to catching fire and facilitate the spreading of these forest fires quickly over the entire forest area.
  • Forecasting fire-prone days and including community members to mitigate incidents of fire, creating fire lines, clearing sites of dried biomass, and crackdown on poachers.
  • The forest fire lines which are strips kept clear of vegetation, could help break the forest into compartments to prevent fires from spreading.

Other Major Protected Areas in Odisha

  • Bhitarkanika National Park: It is home to the largest congregation of the endangered SaltWater Crocodile in the country.
  • Badrama WLS:It is characterized by the presence of Moist Sal Forests.
  • Chilika (Nalaban island) WLS:Asia’s largest and world’s second-largest lagoon. Recently, direct sightings of school of Irrawaddy dolphins has been reported here.
  • Hadgarh WLS:Salandi river passes through it which is home to mugger crocodiles.
  • Baisipalli WLS:It is a sal dominated forest with a significant number of tigers, leopards, elephants, herbivores like Chousingha.
  • Kotagarh WLS:It consists of dense deciduous forests with grasslands.
  • Nandankanan WLS: First in the world to breed White tiger and Melanistic tiger.
  • Lakhari Valley WLS:It is a dwelling place of a large number of elephants.
  • Gahirmatha (Marine) WLS:It is a mass nesting spot in Indian Ocean region and the only turtle sanctuary in Odisha. The Olive Ridley turtles travel across the South Pacific to breed on the coast of Gahirmatha.