NC farmers assess fire damage
NORTHERN Cape farmers affected by this week’s veld fires were yesterday assessing the damage they sustained and brainstorming about how to rehabilitate their land.
Raging veld fires, which broke out on Monday and spread to various farms along the Griquatown road, also affected farms in the Barkly West area on Tuesday.
Farmers, the fire brigade and community members were busy until the early hours of the morning over the past two days trying to extinguish the fires.
The park manager of Mokala National Park, Johan de Klerk, said that they suffered severe damage at the Graspan breeding station.
“The Graspan breeding station, managed by Mokala National Park, suffered severe damage to vegetation and fence infrastructure as a result of a veld fire which raged in the Barkly West area.
“The fire entered the Graspan section from the north-west and quickly moved to the east and south-east boundaries of the breeding station during the early afternoon on Monday.
“The last fire was contained during the early morning hours of Tuesday,” said De Klerk yesterday.
De Klerk added that they had also lost small game during the blaze.
“A few small game perished during the ordeal but Mokala National Park is relieved that the boma, which housed 20 buffalo, could be saved and that no staff houses were destroyed.
“It is estimated that between 70% and 80% of the grazing on Graspan was affected by the fire. A few free-roaming buffalo did sustain some burn wounds and a veterinarian is on the way to assess the injuries and treat the animals accordingly. SANParks is providing fodder for the animals on Graspan and water provision to the game was fortunately not affected by the fire.”
He said that the weather conditions over the past few days had made fighting the fire even more challenging.
“The cause of the fire is still unknown but it apparently started at Vaalbos after which it spread to Rooipoort farm belonging to De Beers.
“Rangers from Mokala National Park were immediately dispatched to assist with containing the fire. Unfortunately, due to the strong winds and high temperatures, the fire could not be contained and it spread to a neighbouring farm.”
De Klerk added that they were grateful for the assistance they received.
“Park management would like to extend their heartfelt appreciation to all the volunteers who assisted with fighting the fire and transported water to refill the fire-fighting tanks.
“The SANParks Honorary Rangers from the Diamantveld Region assisted with supplying drinking water to the brave firefighters, who fought until the fire was contained and under control during the early hours of Tuesday morning.”
The owner of Langverwacht farm, Charles Kross, who lost most of his grazing land, said they were glad the worst was over.
“We have not seen any smoke or heard of any further fire outbreaks. We are hoping it will remain this way.
“Fortunately, we did not lose any wildlife or cattle. We now have to find ways to feed all these animals as their grazing land has been destroyed,” said Kross.
He added that the farmers in the area would meet to map out a way forward.
“We will be having a meeting on Wednesday night with neighbouring and affected farmers to assess how we can assist each other.”
The Northern Cape Department of Agriculture said that about 7 000 hectares of grazing land on Pniel, Secretaris, Rooipoort and Goodhope farms outside Barkly West was destroyed by the fires.