BOTSWANA – Tsodilo village and other communities surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS);Tsodilo hills, are prone to fire outbreaks which are a threat to over 4500 ancient rock paintings at the site.
Chukumuchu, Ghani, Shaikarawe, Etsha, Thamacha, Nxamasere, Mowana and Ikoga are said to be some of the communities sitting on wildland fires prone areas and therefore in need of constant training on fighting such occurrences.
“Tsodilo enclave which comprises of settlements and villages such as Tsodilo, Chukumuchu, Nxamasere, and Ghani experience on average, three major fire outbreaks per season. The peak of the bush fire season normally occurs during September and October,” explained Kiema Nxisai, at the just ended annual national fire management conference in Maun; North West District.
Nxisai of Tsodilo Community Development Trust, was giving a report on community role in fire management as the whole fire department prepares for the fire season.
She attributed the fire outbreaks to among others, communities activities such as clearing of crop fields in preparation for the upcoming crop farming season.
“Lightning is one of the natural causes of bush fires in the area, more especially during the rainy season which is accompanied by thunder storms. Some of the bush fires which threaten Tsodilo World Heritage site originate from the neighbouring country,” he stated.
Tsodilo hills was elevated to a world heritage site in 2001 due to its unique religious and spiritual significance to the local communities.
It is known for its rock shelters, depressions, caves and rock paintings.
The chain of hills known as child, female and male hills have for many years signified spiritual culture of these communities and they have been guarding it with great jealousy and indigenous knowledge.
“It is up to us to protect our indigenous knowledge. Let us be very stingy with it and use it well,” advised John Benn, an Agricultural Resource board chairperson.
Of the 735, 253 hectares of land destroyed by fire last year alone through out the country, 262,882 was Ngamiland, which houses prestigious tourism destinations including the Okavango delta, vast Safaris, game reserve and pans among other attractions.