Lateritic Grassland Fires

Ramit Singal


Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Fires such as these are a common feature across much of the landscape where dry grasslands/fields exist, especially from January to April. Very few are controlled and most are caused by humans.

The laterite grasslands of coastal Karnataka become very dry in the summer and are subject to the harsh sun and hot winds blowing up laterite hill slopes. A carelessly thrown lit cigarette or matchstick in these areas can cause havoc in a matter of minutes, as the dry grass and leaf litter catches fire. 

These fires travel fast across the hill slopes. In the past, I have seen burnt geckos, frogs and even nests in the aftermath. On the evening of 13 March 2016, I was alerted by one of the locals about this fire on a lateritic hill slope in Manipal. We (Gaurav Tiwary and I) reached the spot to document the fire and found this green vine snake nearby trying to climb up a burnt bush! With the fire in the background and moving away, I took a few images and retreated, knowing that the snake was out of danger, but also wondering how many more may have perished.


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