Similipal, Bhitarkanika National Parks Bhubaneswar, May 28 (PTI) The Simlipal National Park and the Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP) experienced 'negligible damage' due to its dense tree cover as tropical cyclone 'Yaas' barrelled through coastal and northern Odisha, a forest department official said on Friday.
Mangroves with their intricate root system that stabilises the coastline emerged as a protective barrier in Bhitarkanika, while the luxuriant and dense tree cover at Simlipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district acted as a saviour in considerably minimising damage when the very severe cyclonic storm passed through the state at a speed of 145 kmph, the official said.
The very severe cyclonic storm, which hit the Odisha coast on May 26 with a wind speed of 130-140 kmph gusting to 150 kmph, had barrelled through the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) from south-east to north-west direction.
However, it failed to script major damage with the luxuriant forest cover protecting it from the fury of Yaas, officials said.
'There was no loss of human and wildlife. The damage caused to the forest properties and facilities was minimal,' the states forest and environment department said in a statement.
However, a big wooden bridge, five small wooden bridges, six anti-poaching sheds, a causeway and a concrete culvert were damaged in the Similipal National Park area.
Besides the earthen road stretching up to 30 km suffered partial damage. Big trees and tourists' recreation facilities remained unharmed in the cyclonic fury, according to a preliminary damage assessment report compiled by STR.
The cumulative loss of properties was estimated at Rs 11.50 lakh as per a preliminary assessment, STR officials said.
Similarly, the 145-km stretch of the BNP in Kendrapara district, a globally acclaimed Ramsar wetland site, also escaped the fury of the cyclone to a considerable extent.
Officials of the national park who have compiled the damage assessment report are of the view that the mangrove cover acted as a buffer zone in minimising damage.
The park has reported the death of two spotted deer while around 100 trees were uprooted in the national park and peripheral hamlets.
Ten accommodation facilities of the forest department suffered partial damage. Six eco-tourism cottages and a jetty at Habelikhati Island were also partially damaged, they said.
The barbed wire fencing along the mangrove plantation sites was damaged partially. The estimated loss of property in the BKN park is assessed at Rs 48.37 lakh as per a preliminary assessment, they said.
Spread over 2,750 square km in Mayurbhanj district, the STR is the fourth largest tiger reserve in the country.
The rich ecosystem is acclaimed as an ideal habitation corridor of Royal Bengal Tiger, elephants besides other wildlife. Because of its calm, serenity and natural environs, it attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Bhitarakanika is one of the richest storehouses of mangrove trees in the country. At least 11 of the 70 mangrove species, which were on the verge of extinction in the world, are found in Bhitarakanika.
Mangroves are regarded as natural barriers against tidal surge and cyclones.
Because of its rich mangrove cover, cyclonic storms from time to time have failed to make inroads into the wetland sites, they said. PTI COR AAM MM MM