10 March 1998

Uganda: Bush Fires Rage In Kidepo

Kampala — Raging bush fires fanned by high winds for four days have destroyed 400 kilometres of vegetation in Kidepo national Kidepo national park in Kotido district.

The acting chief park Warden, Mr Daniel Aleper said 120 people including the UPDF deployed had failed to put out the fire, which has destroyed a third of the park. "They are using palm leaves," Aleper said and added that there is no mechanical fire-fighting equipment. He said the 20-km-long fir e raging westwards could have been started by poachers. The fire had destroyed the Lolamat circuit on the eastern side of the Park, he added. "Poachers use fire to flush out wild game hiding in caves, rocky and tall grass areas," Aleper said.

He also said the fire could have been started off accidentally when the poachers were roasting meat. Aleper explained, "the fire might have killed some small animals and young birds, and roasted the eggs. The large herbivores, like elephants, to may be affected because they rely on much foliage

for their food."

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