Illegal Bushfires In Botswana

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The different parts of Botswana are currently experiencing a lot of bushfires. In this regard, there is need to point out the dangers of illegal bush fire to plan, animal and human life. Some of the causes of illegal bushfires include the following:

1.Malicious Fires (Arson) – There are people who deliberately set up bush fires illegal in Botswana for their own reasons. This is called arson. Such fires result in the damage to the environment, plant and animal life, property and in some instances human life.

2.Agro-pastoralists – some of the bushfires start when agro-pastoralists prepare their crop fields for ploughing. They burn tree stumps or bushes after cutting these bushed and placed in one place to be burnt. However, such fires are often get out of control especially if left to burn at night when there is no one to manage them. Such fires are often blown by the wind and destroy vast amounts of land.

3.Poachers – Poachers or people are involved in illegally hunting usually start fires around particular areas to attract animals when they come for green fresh grass after burning and make killing. In addition, illegal trophy hunters use fires to keep the law enforcement officers busy so that they make killing without being searched.

4.Smoking – Tobacco smokers throwing cigarettes on moving vehicles and as most of the roads have tall grasses then fires starts.

5.Lightning Strikes – Lightning is one of the natural causes of wildland fires in Botswana especially during the rainy season. Lightening when accompanied by thunderstorms cause bushfires. However, most of fires are caused by human activities.

6.Camp fires – Legal and illegal camping of tourists and truck drivers tend to make fires to prepare food, scare animals and at the end of the process they don’t completely put out the fire and the fires gets on and burn the Forest.

7.Machinery and Vehicles – Old Machinery/ vehicles not well maintained give ignition out through the exhaust and burning the grasses along the main roads.

Assets at Risk to the Bushfires

There are several assets which are at risk due to bush fires, these include the following: Human settlements, Agricultural produce and property (e.g. major silos, regional saleyards, cropping/grazing land), Commercial/ industrial (e.g. major industries, waste treatment plants, sawmills, Dumping site; Landfills and sewerage facilities), Infrastructure (e.g. large power lines, gas and oil/fuel station, railway lines, electricity Substations, communication facilities (towers and lines), tarred roads etc.)

The tourist and recreational facilities such as tourist sites and facilities, resorts, lodges etc.) are also exposed to the high risk of bush fires.  The tourism sector is exposed to bush fires as there are located at high fuel load areas, built from flammable materials e.g. wood and grass, no property protection plan, and high volumes of tourists leading to unmanageable number.

The environmental is a natural asset that often gets destroyed by bush fires. The environment contains plants, wildlife, birds, insects etc. Rich districts such as Ngamiland and the chobe are endowed by an abundance of flora and fauna. Bush fires thus remain one of the key hazards in these areas.

Finally, Botswana requires a bush fire management approach. Such an approach needs a Bush Fire Risk Management plan for it to succeed.

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