Fire destroys Nata Sanctuary

Fire destroys Nata Sanctuary

17 October 2008

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Botswana — One of the oldest community-based projects, Nata Sanctuary, has been ravaged by veld fire. The fire, which was reported to have started on Sunday, came in less than a month after Nata Lodge in the same area was also destroyed by fire.

The veld fire left the sanctuary without ablutions and campsites. It also burnt two vehicles to ashes. An official of the Sowa Fire Department, Mr Baone Moikgofhe, said fire fighters, police officers and few members of the public were dispatched to extinguish the fire.

Mr Moikgofhe said the fire started Sunday morning and by 8 p.m., fire fighting crews were still battling with to extinguish it He said it was disturbing that some members of the public were reluctant to assist in putting out the fire.

“While we were busy putting out the fire some people ignored our efforts and continued with their daily businesses,” he said. Mr Moikgofhe said fire fighters needed the public assistance because it was impossible for their vehicles to access some of the areas. “Besides even if we can have access to the affected areas, it will be very difficult because we do not have enough water.

However, some residents at nearby cattle posts dismissed allegations that they did not want to help in putting out the fire, saying they did not have the means. “I saw the fire coming but it was so enormous and I did know what to do,” one Mr Lemogang Ramoga, said.

Mr Ramoga said farmers were also concerned about losing their livestock, therefore “we cannot sit and watch our cattle dying.” “Besides, this is a low density area and for us to assist, we need manpower, and we have to call in people from Nata and Dukwi villages,” he added.

Mr Wayne Talbot, a Sowa resident, said they were assisting to stop the fire from spreading “for the sake of the environment.” He said there was need to conserve nature, adding that the sanctuary was a popular place for camping and bird viewing. Nata Sanctuary is one of only three breeding sites in Africa for the flamingoes. The sanctuary started operating in 1988 with assistance from United States peace corps.

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