Fires devastate national parks


It has only taken a few months for wildfires to burn over two hundred thousand sqm of Ethiopia’s national parks.
Climate change has caused longer dry seasons leading to increased fire danger but The Ethiopian Wild Animals Conservation Authority (EWCA) says all of these fires have been caused by human error.
During a briefing the Authority said all fires have been caused by human actions.
Over 15000sqm in Kafta Shiraro National Park burned from October through November because residents who lived near the park illegally entered it, while attempting to traditionally extract honey. Located in Tigray, Kafta Shiraro, has taken the biggest hit as 70 percent of its wild animals have migrated to neighboring Eritrea.
Arsi Bale National Park, established in 1970 under the Dergue regime was burned several times in Dinsho, Goba and Adaba Weredas. In the last eight months alone, the park has burned three times.
The fires have been caused by people trying to cultivate new farm land as the population grows and burning the plant known as “Asta” traditionally used for cattle grazing and charcoal.
Fires also devastated Maghoo, Gambela, Halidega – Asebot, National Parks in January and the Authority is looking into how much it damaged the flora and fauna that exist in the parks.
The most recent wild fires have occurred in Simien National Park, which is on the World Heritage List. The fire lasted for seven consecutive days in March and burned over 320 acres of land. It is not yet endangered, Kumera Wakigira Director of EWCA said.
Fire prevention and safety management needs more money so the Authority plans to organize stakeholders. This effort, and the 10-year management plan currently being implemented by the Ethiopian Wildlife & Conservation Authority should help alleviate the problem, according to Kumera Wakijira, Director of EWCA.
The 13 National Parks under the Ethiopian Wildlife & Conservation Authority generated 123 million Br in revenue last fiscal year
“The revenue shows how little attention is paid by the government to national parks and wild animals,” Kumera said.