South African National Parks (SANParks) would like to reiterate that fire season is in full swing at the Marakele National Park situated outside Thabazimbi in the Limpopo Province.
The season which started on 1 May will last until the end of October and so far there has not been any major fire within or within the vicinity of the Park.
According to Marakele’s Park Manager, Mr Mphadeni Nthangeni, the fire team in the Park has been hard at work with fire breaks, though it was delayed due to the rains that continued until mid-May. He said “this is as a result of vegetation that was still green and could not burn at the time of annual firebreaks preparation and we were then granted permission to continue with burning until the end of July 2017.”
Firebreaks around Marakele covers more than a 100km radius and the preparations are also done around the infrastructure to prevent fire from damaging the properties. A number of methods including burning of all combustible material, opening with belt wide enough to prevent fire from jumping from one property to another, are used.
The Park has the highest mountain peaks in the area and is therefore prone to lightning which often start fires in the area. Visitors to the Park are encouraged to comply with the rules of the Park and if the Conservation Manager grants permission to make a fire then set conditions or restrictions must be adhered to. No permission is however necessary where a fire is to be made for cooking or ‘social’ activities but the following rules must be adhered to:
- It must be made at designated picnic or braai areas, or in specific areas approved by the Conservation Manager.
- In all these instances, the ground within a minimum radius of 4m from where the fire is made must be clear of all combustible material, to reduce the likelihood of the veld being ignited.
- The fire must at all times be under the control of an adult.
- Where ‘social’ fires need to be made, it should be approved by the Conservation Manager and this may only be done where the ground is cleared of all combustible material for a radius of at least 6 m from where the fire is to be made.
- During windy weather, no fire should be lit.
- Rest camp staff is advised to inform tourists about the dangers of making large fires especially at the picnic area, particularly on windy days, as such fires can ignite the veld easily.
- It is prohibited to burn rubbish in the Park; rubbish should be dumped in the provided waste disposal bin.
- No fire is allowed at the Towers at all.