Battered home: Trees uprooted by cyclone Fani near the Balukhand forest in Odisha.
Loss of habitat has forced hundreds of monkeys into residential areas in Bhubaneswar’s periphery
Severe Cyclone Fani rendered not only several thousand people homeless as it tore along India’s east coast last week, but also dealt a body blow to wildlife and forest resources in the region.The scenic stretch along the tree-lined Marine Drive that bisects the Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary adjacent to the Bay of Bengal between Puri and Konark, is now a wasteland with hardly any tree left untouched, wildlife officials said.“As per eye estimate, the cyclone damaged nearly 55 lakh trees, mostly casuarinas,” said Harsabardhan Udgatta, Divisional Forest Officer of Puri (wildlife) division. “As many as 20% of the trees were uprooted, while the rest were found snapped and broken. The devastation has left around 400 spotted deer homeless,” he said.Apart from deer, the sanctuary, spread over an area of 87 sq km, was home to wild boar, jackals, striped hyenas, wolves and mongooses. While the DFO asserted that no carcasses of spotted deer had been sighted, it was hard to imagine that the animals had actually escaped the cyclone’s fury.Nandankanan closedIn Bhubaneswar, the cyclone had uprooted decades-old trees inside the Nandankanan Zoological Park. Several animal enclosures too have been affected forcing authorities to shut down the zoo for an indefinite period. The Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary, which is close by, has also been impacted with thousands of trees uprooted. Authorities are attempting to assess the extent of damage.As a result, hundreds of displaced monkeys have now entered residential colonies in the periphery of Bhubaneswar. Residents have reported cases of the simians attacking people after loss of habitat and food sources.