WILDLIFE conservationists have expressed concern that more wildlife and plant species in the vast Hwange National Park could be lost this year due to the early onset of veld fires which normally start around October.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Bhejane Trust founder, Trevor Lane yesterday said it took them five days last week to extinguish a veld fire which had encroached into the Sinamatella area, threatening thousands of wildlife and plant species in the game park.
“The fires invaded the Sinamatella area in the park and we have been working tirelessly recently to quench the fire. We haven’t established where it came from, but it has been a tough job. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority team and Bhejane Trust have been trying to control the fire for five days and nights before getting them under control,” he said.
Lane said under normal circumstances, veld fires start in October.
“Under normal circumstances, the fires start in October, but I fear this is the beginning and we will see more this season,” he said, adding they were yet to quantify the damage caused by the fire.
“We are yet to establish the casualties, but for now, I have no information. I am not on the ground at the moment, but I doubt there was much damage to the wild.”
According to Environmental Management Agency, veld fires have become one of the greatest environmental challenges in the country. Over the years, an average of one million hectares is burnt each year, resulting in the loss of pasture, forestry resources, plantations, livestock, property and human beings.