News update: 28th July
The Sabi Sabi rangers are a special breed of people who possess a wide range of skills and talents. They must be great teachers to effectively impart their vast knowledge of the bush and its multitude of fauna and flora, they have to have empathy to understand the needs of the multi-national guests visiting the lodges, they need mentoring skills to train new guides in the ways of the wild, and they need courage and skill to fight the fires which could flare up in the bushveld areas.
Fire is very much a natural part of the ecosystem and the speedy control of runaway fires is vital, but sustainable managed burning is also essential for the long-term health of the bushveld environment. Every year the habitat team carefully plans their managed fire strategy, calculating which areas of the reserve need controlled burning, and at which time of the year this is best done.
Burns which are done before the rainy season sets in are for the purpose of reducing moribund (excess dried grass) in an area which lessens the risks of out of control natural fires. These pre-rainy season fires are very fast burning and need extreme skill in controlling. At the end of the rainy season, because the grass is wetter, the fires are slower burning. These post-season fires stimulate growth and help control bush encroachment.
Fire preparedness is one of the many on-going trainings for the safari team and regular fire drills and exercises are held to ensure that they are always ready and able to tackle fire-related incidents.
Very recently the fire readiness procedures were tested when Managing Director Rod Wyndham secretly organised a surprise practise run. The emergency call came through and within minutes the safari team was loaded into Land Rovers and rushing towards the location given by Rod. With such emergencies time is always of the essence and in this instance the team’s response time was exceptional – their intensive training had paid off! This response gave Rod the confidence to implement the pre-rainy season burn – a very successful two day event which took place towards the end of June.
Fires occur naturally in the bushveld and are a vital part of the ‘circle of life’. The Sabi Sabi team is always ready, waiting and on the alert for any eventuality.