Valley of fires

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/3/2021 12:23:00 PM IST

 As the year 2020 was ending, the pristine, picturesque and famed valley of Dzükou (meaning “soulless and dull” in Viswema dialect of the Southern Angami area), was ravaged by ravaging forest fires. The valley has so far recorded at least six reported wildfires. The most recent occurred sometime on December 29,2020 and continued for around five days. The state governor R.N.Ravi also visited the site to assess the damage and also sought urgent help from the Centre. The wildfire has been contained largely due to the rapid response from the NDRF and Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority(NSDMA) besides helicopters sent by the Indian Air Force(IAF) and logistical support of the army. The entire valley reportedly covering an area of about 27 sq. km and sits at an average elevation of about 2,452m above sea level. There, the rivers run clear and pure. The scene is not only idyllic but isolated and kept away from the world. The valley is also home to the finely plumaged Blyth’s Tragopan (Tragopan blythii) pheasant, designated as the state bird of Nagaland. However, the Blyth’s Tragopan is now greatly endangered in Nagaland due to hunting and snaring activities for its meat and feathers. There have been several wildfires that have devastated hundreds of acres of the valley and majestic mountains. A huge fire broke out here in January 2006 and raged for over week. An estimated 70 sq. km of the Dzükou valley and adjacent Japfu hill ranges were devastated by the inferno. Another less destructive wildfire struck the valley in January 2010, destroying 15 sq. km of forest cover. In February 2012 a conflagration reduced hundreds of acres of the valley to ashes. Another wildfire occurred during mid-March 2015, engulfing hundreds of acres of forest. The valley was also engulfed by another wildfire from November 26,2018 and lasted for four days. At that time the Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO) volunteers did a good job in containing the dousing the ravaging fire. Using only daos and sack clothes, SAYO volunteers performed an incredible act of saving the pristine valley from being consumed. These wildfires have systematically destroyed rare and nearly extinct flora and fauna. Often all it takes is for somebody to carelessly toss an un-extinguished cigarette butt or a smouldering match into the vegetation. Wildfires in the valley are normally started by people, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Several hundred acres of beautiful natural flora have been destroyed by wildfires. The problem is that wildfires destroy the existing diversity and patches of forest cover in the valley. Thriving on the burnt ground, the rapidly regenerating dwarf bamboo then assumes dominance, suppressing the growth of other competing species. Thus the fire-bamboo cycle is self-perpetuating. The pristine forest of the area is being destroyed by human-caused forest fires, which have resulted in rapid depletion of the rich flora. The survival of populations of several species in their natural habitats in unsure, while a few are already on the verge of extinction. It is incumbent upon the state government to order a thorough probe into the wildfire and identify the causes and those responsible. The state government along with nearby villages also need to come up with preventive measures so that such tragedies do not recur to preserve the valley for posterity.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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