Rwanda: Kayonza Residents Warned Against Bush Fires

Rwanda: Kayonza Residents Warned Against Bush Fires

27 February 2012

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Rwanda –Authorities, yesterday, called on residents of Kayonza District, particularly those neighbouring Akagera National Park, to desist from burning bushes.

Francois Bizumungu, a conservation planning officer with Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said that fire often gutted the park due to irresponsible burning of bushes in the nearby communities.

Bizimungu told The New Times that the campaign was aimed at safeguarding the country’s rich biodiversity from unwarranted destruction.

“We want people neighbouring the park to know that it doesn’t belong to RDB, but to Rwandans. Fire destroys animal habitat and exposes them to predators…it has to stop,” he said.

Kayonza District Mayor John Mugabo noted that bush burning has negative consequences on development and appealed to residents to desist from it, warning that defaulters will be dragged to courts of law, once caught.

He described fire as one of the greatest human induced disasters in the district and lamented that the high incidence of fire had led to loss of lives, property and means of livelihood.

“Farmers always engage in bush burning in a bid to clear their farmland when the planting season approaches and this has, on numerous occasions, led to uncontrollable disaster,” said the mayor.

“Bush burning is very dangerous to our development because it causes a lot of environmental disasters such as removal of vegetation cover and destruction to lives and property, among others,” he added.

Jean Damascene Ndahayo, a resident of the area, however, said that hunting for wild animals, such as bush antelopes, was the driving force behind the indiscriminate bush burning in the area.

He said that people also use blazing fires as cover to smuggle illegal goods and drugs in the country.

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