THE Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has cited fish and wildlife poachers as major causes of veld fires that have caused havoc in the Midlands province, particularly in the Somabhula area.
By Stephen Chadenga
EMA Midlands provincial spokesperson Simon Musasiwa yesterday pleaded with members of the communities to help in the identification of the poachers.
“The major cause of veld fires here in ward 15 Somabhula are fish poachers at Gwenoro and Amapongokwe Dams as well as small game poachers,” Musasiwa said.
“We have poachers who light up fires for cooking, but these fires end up spreading in the area. We also have illegal hunters who burn grass in order to clear vegetation to chase game.”
Musasiwa said EMA had raised awareness campaigns among villagers with the community urged to come up with a register of poachers as they are usually known in the community.
Ward 15 councillor Sibongile Matavire called on EMA to introduce deterrent penalties to stop the scourge, saying poachers were the biggest challenge for local farmers.
She also said police should increase patrols in the area, especially at night when the illegal hunters mostly carry out their activities.
“Farmers in Somabhula put all measures like fire guards, among others to prevent the spread of veld fires but these poachers especially illegal hunters start the fires from the centre of farms,” she said.
Meanwhile, Musasiwa said 22 veld fires have been reported in the province since the beginning of this year’s fire season.