Veld fires ravage Beitbridge

By Innocent Nxumalo

LIVESTOCK farmers in Beitbridge are crying out for help after battling veld fires for more than 10 days, with more than 6 000 hectares of conserved forests and pastures reduced to ashes.

The dream of regenerating Mapungubwe and Rangelands’ natural ecosystems is suffering a devastating blow after a ravaging wildfire consumed over 6 000 hectares of rangeland.

Livestock farmers have been overwhelmed after battling the raging blaze.

“Our livelihoods are sustained by livestock which grazes from these rangelands. It is a terrible sight to see hectares of pastures being reduced to ashes.”

“We have formed groups to monitor and fight fires day and night,” said affected farmers.

Environmentalist Steve Pokok and Beitbridge District Forestry Commission officer Zibusiso Ndlovu concur that the fire outbreak has frustrated efforts to revitalise natural ecosystems in the area.

“These raging fires are not only a huge blow to conservancy initiatives but to the villagers whose livestock is sustained here. It is the eleventh day these farmers have been in the front combating this fire,” said Pokok.

“Over 6000 hectares have been affected and we are still counting. This is probably one of the worst fire seasons we have endured as a district,” said Ndlovu.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire outbreak although villagers accuse animal and wood poachers of starting veld fire.