Dear Peter (Bush Call)
Thank you for your posting on the de-bushing of areas at Biyamiti. Please allow me a moment to qualify and quantify what has happened at Biyamiti.
Biyamiti was opened during 1991, and since that time there has been no natural de-bushing, by elephants for instance, happening inside the camp itself and bar two occasions where fire partially burnt down areas of the natural bush inside the camp very little vegetation control has been done inside the fence.
When one compares the sections of bush inside the camp to sections outside the camp there is a vast difference in the density of the vegetation. That leads to mainly two problems.
- Firstly the build-up of plant material becomes a fire hazard especially during the dryer months. Should the bush inside the camp take on fire we will have our work cut out to actually save the camp from being totally destroyed. Remember we do not have a fire brigade just around the corner, and the closest help will be at least 45 minutes away. (Murphy's Law also says it will happen at night - which of course is just complicating matters).
- Secondly the build up of plant material has also resulted in the vegetation obscuring any view towards the river and from cottage 10 towards 15 the bush was so intrusive towards the front of the cottages that it almost had a claustrophobic effect. So yes this had an influence as well in the decision (after all I am working in Hospitality so I need to listen to the requests from our guests as well.)
After consultation with our section ranger it was decided that a decent clean-up of the camp was needed. We considered controlled burning but I was not comfortable with that at all. We then decided to cut out quite a lot of the bush and manage it better in future. Most long grass was cut (but not replaced with lawn), most trees and shrubs were trimmed and quite a number of shrubs (mostly raisin bushes and red spiky thorn) were in fact cut out. We left special pockets of bush, like the area in front of #15 in tact, as that created a special ambiance of that unit. Towards the back of the cottages we left the natural bush (albeit overgrown) in tact as well, as we decided that it should be manageable with our fire fighting equipment that we had at Biyamiti.
Without trying to sound too defensive on this issue, but I think it can be seen from the above that we do not just take our decisions lightly. I am better qualified in the line of Nature Conservation than in Hospitality and would like to think that I balance the needs and safety of my guest well against the impact on nature, even within the camp (which in the end is an artificial environment with lots of human impacts). However, when something has been left for too long it sometimes needs more drastic measures to correct. I have always been prepared to take the responsibility of those decisions on me (and the flack that comes with it), but it is not something that is just taken lightly.
Thank you for the chance given to me to put the scenario in context.