Preparations for peak fire season at Kruger National Park

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Preparations for peak fire season at Kruger National Park

In order to get ready for the approaching peak fire season, the Kruger National Park (KNP) has
started performing controlled burns. Fires frequently occur in KNP throughout the winter as the dry
season begins. In KNP, fires are frequently seen in the landscape. In this landscape, the animals and
plants have evolved immunity to fire, and the ecosystem depends on fires to stay balanced and

There is a relationship between how much rain is received during the rainy season, how much grass
grows in response to the rain, which then affects how much area is burned in the dry season. Fires
occur when there is sufficient grass to sustain a fire, the correct weather conditions, and an ignition
source. Considering the extremely high amounts of rain during the previous wet season, KNP is
expecting more fires this winter (hot dry weather) compared to last year. For the last few years,
roughly 15% of the park has burned annually. “This year we are expecting more than 20% of KNP to
burn” says Abiotic Scientist, Tercia Strydom. “The park monitors and maps all fires using both ground
reports as well as advanced satellite mapping techniques”, she concluded.
For ecological and fire safety considerations, the park’s Rangers will manage most of these burns.
The veld has a record-breaking quantity of grass, which raises the chance of big wildfires starting
later in the dry season. To assist break up the grass loads into smaller patches and lower the risk of
fire, the Rangers have already started burning fires early in the dry season. In addition, KNP as part
of the Greater Kruger Fire Protection Association have started implementing firebreaks around
infrastructure such as camps, staff quarters, entry gates and along the Parks boundary. By having a
trained and equipped team of Rangers and using proactive fire management techniques such as
burning to reduce grass loads and constructing firebreaks, KNP will be well prepared for the winter
fire season.

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