We are aware that people had to suspend their trekking activities ever since the coronavirus-induced lockdown measures were mandated countrywide last year to stain the spread of the contagious infection. But now, you must be planning to resume the adventures and bask in the wilderness, once again, especially before the summer season begins.
However, those who are planning to explore the south of India are urged to be extra cautious, owing to numerous instances of massive forest fires and leopard sightings around hiking trails in the last few days.
Caution: Forest fire ahead
In the recent days, forest fires have been spotted near Nandi hill and Basadi Betta, two among the most favourite trekking spots near Bengaluru.
"Recently, forest fires have been reported in Nandi hill ranges, especially at Horagina Betta, which is where many trekkers prefer to go. We had recently planned a trek to Horagina Betta but had to abort at the last minute, after being alerted of a forest fire," G Raj, a regular trekker, told Bangalore Mirror.
Raj said that he had changed his plan and decided to trek the Nandi hills but upon reaching the spot he said he found burnt trees along the path.
"Many instances of trekkers being caught in fires have been reported and so, we are requesting trekkers to be extremely careful during the summer months," he urged.
Basadi Betta, located on the top of the Mandharagiri hills, in the village of Pandithanahalli, Karnataka, is an ideal trekking spot for families due to its low elevation.
The wild on the loose
Meanwhile, reports have also stated that in areas around Heggunda, another popular trekking spot among localities, leopards as well as other wild animals have been sighted to roam freely on the roads these days.
Followingly, locals of the area have also issued warnings to trekkers, urging them to stay away and not venture into the unexplored areas.
"Apart from the forest fire season coming up, trekker should also be mindful of wildlife in the area. Leopard sightings have been in news and one must avoid entering grasslands and campfires. During summers, there is a shortage of water and leopards are seen leaving their areas in search of water. To avoid human-animal conflict, one must be very careful," said Dev Balaji Setty, a second trekker.
Extent and possible consequence
However, this is not the first time when such a thing has been reported to happen in the hilly regions of Karnataka.
Parts of Nandi Hills reportedly were under fire twice, while two other hills in the Panchagiri range located just off Bengaluru city were ravaged due to the same for some three to four times in early March, 2018.
Forest officials from the Chikkaballapura Range reported that hunting traps were found near the fire sites. But local environmentalists blamed land grabbing and hunting to be the major causes for fires in the region.
"Every year, at least six or seven times, people come and set fire to the hills. They do it to poach peacocks, and also to try and usurp the land," Channegowda, a member of the Arkavathy Kumudavathy Punarrakshepana Samithi, told The News Minute.
Of late, the conservators complained that many restaurants and resorts have also come up in the area, adding that this makes it a classic ploy to usurp forest land and convert it to 'gomala land', pasture land for community use, which is then bought by builders, who construct resorts and villas over it.