Camp fire in Wellington’s Botanic Gardens endangers 250-year-old bush

Camp fire in Wellington’s Botanic Gardens endangers 250-year-old bush

21 March 2016

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New Zealand– The manager of Wellington’s Botanic Garden says a fire lit there on Saturday night was just metres from rare, pre-European bush.

Police and the fire service were called to the gardens, and found bout 20 people surrounding the camp fire, lit on Remembrance Ridge , a memorial to First World War veterans.

Gardens manager David Sole said just five metres from the fire, was 200-250 year old native bush

It was particularly vulnerable to fire, due to hot dry weather over the past few weeks.

“It would have gone up instantly, and it would have been a tragic loss for the garden, and the city.”

He said there was only small pockets of such bush in the city, and it was crucial to regeneration efforts.

“If they’re destroyed, they’re gone.”

Security was going to be ramped up at the gardens during the evenings over the next few weeks.

Sole said he would be in touch with police and the fire brigade, to see if there was any information about who lit the fire.

As for the site itself, Sole said it had been cleared and there was barely any visible evidence of the fire.

There had been fires lit in the gardens occasionally in the past, usually by homeless people.Officials of the Department of Game and Wildlife have called for a thorough cleaning of the environment to ward off reptiles, following preliminary investigations and assessment they conducted in Essienimpong and Kwaaso in the Ejisu municipality which have been invaded by snakes.

The team, who visited the two communities and interacted with the people, believe that the recent long drought coupled with the destruction of the natural habitat through bushfires might have forced the reptiles to invade these towns, since their habitat had been destroyed.


Regional Manager

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Regional Manager of the Wildlife Division for Brong Ahafo and Ashanti, Mr Charles Haizel, said preliminary assessment by his men indicated that the snakes moved to the communities and laid their eggs as a result of a bushfire in a forest in the area.

He said samples of the snakes had been taken for further studies and identification, adding that it could also be that the recent heavy rains might have washed them from where they were hatched to the communities.


The two communities were gripped with fear and panic after the invasion of their homes and shops by hundreds of the snakes.

Since last Monday, the residents have been living in great trepidation, especially when the snakes, three different types, emerged from holes in homes and street sides, usually after 7p.m. each day.

As many as 87 snakes were killed one night in a single house.

It became worse last Wednesday night when the lights went off. Most of the members of the community, especially the youth, went out on a snake-killing spree.

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