ADDIS ABABA – Firemen helped by over 5,000 volunteers managed to bring under control a fire in southern Ethiopia’s Nechsar national park, home to the rare Swayne’s hartebeest. The fire broke out on Sunday. Almaz Beyero, an agriculture ministry offical, told Reuters by telephone from Awassa that firebreaks created by the locals were now hemming the fire in.
The park is home to the rare Swayne’s hartebeest, a horse-like antelope with short, curved horns which is found only in Ethiopia.
“The fire was brought under control before causing any harm to the teeming game animals inside the park,” Almaz said.
Nechsar, which covers some 514 sq km (200 sq miles), is located near the town of Arba Minch, some 500 km (310 miles) south of Addis Ababa.
The fire at Nechsar was thought to have been started by Guji and Koira tribes while clearing bushland for cultivation.
Meanwhile, a South African and Ethiopian joint team of firefighters is still trying to contain a forest fire which destroyed some 70,000 hectares (170,000 acres) of woodland in Bale and Borena, also in the south of the country.
The firefighters were using two helicopters and a spotter plane to tackle the blaze from the air, while some 70,000 soldiers, farmers and students were fighting the fire on the ground.