Earlier this year Steven Whitfield, Section Ranger at Tshokwane, implemented a controlled burn in his section south west of Nkumbe mountain. |
The area had not been burnt for two years and it was feared that this area predominated by tall Themeda Triandra may sustain a very hot intense fire if left to burn later in the dry season.
After having started the fire by means of 6 point ignitions at 14: 00, by late afternoon at 17h00 Steven took flight in the Bantam B22J Ultra light Aircraft that was presented to the KNP Rangers corpse last year by a joint funding venture between the Ranger Support Services and the West Rand Honorary Rangers, to monitor the fire from the air.
According to Steven “one of the biggest problems when monitoring a large fire from the ground is that it is almost impossible to get an accurate perspective on how the fire has or is burning, as well as an accurate perspective of the exact parameters of the fire.
These being critical factors to consider when managing a fire and pre-empting the potential threats it may hold regarding infrastructure and adjacent properties to the KNP. All this information was very quickly established using the Bantam.”
From the Bantam it was quickly established that the three southern-most ignitions had merged into one fire, with the fire then burning into the back of an area burnt last season.
“The fire in the southern part of the block is probably the hottest fire I have ever witnessed in January,” says Steven, thus confirming that it had definitely been the correct decision to burn the area early in the season, which has subsequently received good rain and has a dense growth of knee high grass, but importantly with out the dry grass of the previous 2 seasons.