NC farm­ers as­sess fire dam­age

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - BENIDA PHILLIPS STAFF RE­PORTER

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.

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