Fires destroy over 570 000ha

Fires destroy over 570 000 ha 

13 October 2006

published by

Kasane — The veld fire broke out more than two months ago in the Chobe District has ravaged more than 570 000 hectares, about 5 500 square kilometres of land.

The District Coordinator for Forestry and Range Resources, Desmond Serero, said the fire started in July at Kasane Forest Reserve extension.

Serero said the fire has affected more than 200 000 hectares, or 34 per cent of the Chobe National Park.

The fire was still burning and it has passed through Savuti to Moremi Game Reserve, adding that it was likely to cause more damage.

He said a satellite image suggest that the fire would devour vegetation on additional 100 000 hectares of land before reaching degraded areas.

Sereros department uses Aqua and Terra Modis satellite with ArcGIS software located in Gaborone to locate and record the damage.

He said other institutions were reluctant to assist with manpower because their budgets did not allow them to do so.

In addition, he said, community trusts such as CECT and KALEPA that benefited directly from wildlife resources did not show interest in assisting to fight the fire.

No human casualties had been recorded so far.

KALEPA Community Trust board chairman Samuel Dihentse said in an interview that the community was unwilling to help fire fighters because they say the officers are making a lot of money in form of subsistence allowance whereas the community is not entitle to any allowances.

At the end of their trip officers tease the community that they had been working for charity, while officers made a killing.

He said such remarks demoralise the community who ultimately refuse to assist in putting off wild fires.

However, Dihentse said Herbage Preservation Act was the only tool that could be used to force the community to cooperate.

The Act will be rendered toothless if the Forestry and Range Resources can not use it, he said.

CECT board chairperson Lackson Sankwasa said his trust was concerned about wild fires that were destroying wildlife areas, adding that the trust had not yet addressed a kgotla meeting on the fire situation in the area.


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