Namibia: Etosha Fires Spare Wildlife

Namibia: Etosha Fires Spare Wildlife

6 September 2006

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Etosha, Namibia — No wild animals perished in the veld fire that gutted a huge part of the Etosha National Park on Thursday, a senior official in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism said yesterday.

Ben Beytell, the Director of Parks and Wildlife Management, told The Namibian that no game were reported killed by the fire, which burned about 200 000 hectares of Etosha.

“We flew up there yesterday (on Monday) and we did not see anything,” said Beytell.

He said the fire was caused by lighting, which ignited three fires at the same time.

One fire erupted at the Karos Rare Species Camp, a site in Etosha where the Ministry of Environment and Tourism keeps rare animal species such as roan antelope, rhino and black-faced impala.

It is a fenced camp covering an area of about 35 000 hectares.

The second fire was ignited in the Hobatere concession area in the Kunene Region west of Etosha, while a third erupted in the park itself.

The fires spread to some commercial farms south of the park and raged until Sunday, Beytell said.

He said when they flew there on Monday, they spotted smoke south-west of Kamanjab, which could also have been caused by lightning.

A number of veld fires have been reported in the country since June and have destroyed huge areas of grazing land.

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s flagship park, attracting 50 per cent of all tourists to the country, and is one of the world’s oldest national parks.

It is inhibited by 114 mammal species (several endangered), 380 bird, 110 reptile, 16 amphibian and one fish species.

The Etosha Pan at the centre of Etosha Park is classified as a wetland of international importance.


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