Fire guts Akagera Park
Kayonza – Kayonza District authorities yesterday called on local residents, particularly those neighbouring the Akagera National Park, to desist from burning bushes.
The reaction came after an inferno gutted several hectares of the park a few days ago.
According to residents, fire was still consuming the park in Rwinkwavu Sector yesterday.
The Conservation Division Manager at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB,) Telesphore Ngoga, admitted that frequent fires at the park were as a result of irresponsible burning of bushes among communities neighbouring it.
Ngoga urged the public to safeguard the country’s rich biodiversity from wanton destruction.
He said that burning of bushes was against the law, urging residents to alert authorities in case of accidental fire.
“Bush fires have far-fetched effects, particularly those neighbouring the park. We want people neighbouring the park to behave responsibly. Fire destroys animal habitat and exposes them to predators,” he said, insisting that the habit has to stop.
Ngoga cited the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) that prohibits illegal logging, charcoal production, and igniting of bush fires. The environmental body’s reports indicate that forest encroachment through various human activities remains a major threat.
The Mayor of Kayonza District, John Mugabo, noted that burning bushes has negative consequences on development and appealed to residents to desist from the crime, warning that culprits would face the full wrath of the law.
“Farmers always engage in bush burning in a bid to clear their farmland when the planting season approaches and this has on numerous occasions led to uncontrollable disasters.”
“Burning of bushes is very dangerous to our development because it causes a lot of environmental disasters such as removal of vegetation cover and destruction of lives and property, among others,” Mugabo emphasised
Claude Ufiteyezu, a resident of the area, however, said that game hunting was the driving force behind the indiscriminate burning of bushes in the area.
He added that people also use fires as cover to smuggle illegal goods and drugs into the country.
“A mixture of tradition, ignorance, among others, is responsible for burning of bushes. Some people do it to hunt or for fun,” he noted.
Contact email: stephen.rwembeho[at]newtimes.co.rw