Man-made forest fires threaten ‘neelakurinji’ plants

  1. A massive forest fire has eroded the forest lands of the Neelakurinji Sanctuary in Vattavada as well as parts of Pampadum Shola National Park in Munnar, Kerala.According to the Wildlife experts,the recent large-scale forest fires on the grasslands where Neelakurinji blossoms could have wiped out of all the seeds of the Kurinji flowers from the area.
  2. Further,Forest Department suspects that the recent wildfires were man-made.It is alleged that the areas coming under the proposed Kurinji sanctuary in were set on fire with a motive to destroy the germination of Neelakurinji seeds,immediately after the flowering season so that the area would not come under the sanctuary.
  3. The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) India defines forest fire as an unclosed and freely spreading fire that consumes the natural fuels.Forest fires can be caused by both natural (e.g. Lightning) and anthropogenic factors (e.g. negligent use of fire, shifting cultivation etc).
  4. Kurinji or Neelakurinji is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India.Nilgiri Hills,which literally means the blue mountains got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years.The flowers grows at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 metres.
  5. Some Kurinji flowers bloom once every seven years,and then die.Their seeds subsequently sprout and continue the cycle of life and death.The Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu used it as a reference to calculate their age.