BY REX MPHISA
MORE than 1 000 hectares of grassland have been ravaged by a veldfire, which is believed to have started in Botswana and swept through Tuli Circle, about 100km West of Beitbridge town.
Villagers and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) officials sent distress calls yesterday as the ravaging fire threatened to destroy pastures and a nature reserve in the Tuli National Park.
ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo yesterday confirmed the fire incident, but said stakeholders teamed up to contain its further spread.
He urged villagers to desist from starting veldfires, saying it was a threat to wildlife and pastures.
“I can confirm that there was a wildfire in the Tuli area. Stakeholders have managed to contain the fire, but we appeal to people to avoid starting fires. We are in the fire season,” Farawo said.
“About 100 hectares have been affected by the fire.”
A government worker at Tuli yesterday said villagers, whose mainstay is cattle ranching, teamed with other stakeholders to extinguish the fire that had lasted for a day.
Most villagers in the area rear cattle as a source of income as land husbandry is unproductive.
It is the indigenous home of the Tuli cattle breed, one of Zimbabwe and southern Africa’s major cattle type.
Tuli is also part of the Transfrontier Park between Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, where the three countries have pulled down their borders to allow free-crossing State-to-State movement in the wildlife-rich area.
Besides, Tuli has a strong historical background from 1890 to 1893 as it was the main entry point into Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) by settlers.
Tuli was the first location north of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers where a “European” style building was erected.
Cecil John Rhodes used cannon fire from a vantage point to mark the circle and the cannon stand is still there as a reminder of this incident.
It forms what is today the heart of Tuli Safari Area.
A total of 25 graves of the first pioneers have stood the test of time. The inscriptions on the tombstones give brief tales of their lives and how they died.
Among those, whose remains were interred at the Pioneer Column Cemetery at Fort Tuli, is a Scottish marksman who died due to injuries sustained during the Anglo-Boer war (December 1880 to March 1881), a seven-month-old baby and one man identified as Theodore C Fenton, who was mauled by a lion after mistaking it for a
Fenton’s story is that he had had more than a cupful of liquor and had to get up at night to answer to nature’s call. He saw what he thought was a large dog and took a hefty kick at it, but the large dog turned out to be a lion and it mauled him and he died two days later.
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