Media Release: Fire in Addo Elephant National Park
14 August 2008
A fire has been raging in the Zuurberg Mountain area of Addo Elephant National Park since Sunday afternoon, 10 August.
The fire started on the Zuurberg Mountain Village property adjoining the Park but rapidly spread into the Park. The cause of the fire has not been established.
The fire, which is still blazing, has burnt an estimated 7 000 hectares of fynbos and grassland vegetation in the mountainous areas of the Park. Park rangers, assisted by Cacadu District fire teams and Working on Fire teams have been battling the blaze since Sunday. Extremely dry conditions and strong winds have hampered their efforts and the situation has been exacerbated by frequent changes in wind direction.
Visitors were evacuated from Narina Bush Camp yesterday afternoon as a safety precaution, although the fire has not reached the area in which the bush camp is located.
The Zuurberg Mountain Village, which is a private business located on the borders of the Park has sustained considerable damage, losing 31 chalets to the fire.
Visitors to the Addo Elephant National Park will not be affected, apart from the fact that they will not be able to participate in the hiking trails and guided horse trails in the Zuurberg Mountains. The situation at Narina Bush Camp will be monitored closely.
Although the cause of the fire is unknown, fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon in fynbos and grassland ecosystems and is vital for the long-term maintenance of the vegetation. The efforts of rangers and others assisting with fire fighting have therefore been focused on containing the fire to prevent it from endangering the lives of people or destroying infrastructure.
Smaller animals such as tortoises, snakes and rodents have probably been affected by the fire but there have been no reports yet of deaths of large animals such as eland, kudu and red hartebeest.
South African National Parks.
Megan Taplin, Regional Communications Manager: Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo and Mountain Zebra National Parks, Tel: (042) 233-8609 or 083 6508649.