Wildlife and landscape photographer
The savannah in flames

The savannah in flames

In the endless plains of Botswana, in the heart of Chobe National Park, the savannah is burning.
The land of the Lions is dying of repeated fires.
During my last trip I was able to witness incredible scenes of vegetation in flames, the fire spreading its procession of ashes and smoke for miles around.
Surrounded by flames, it was sometimes difficult to navigate the track through the vegetation. In the bush, bright orange walls pushed by the hot wind progressed at high speed, burning everything in their path.
After a brief moment of hesitation and a salutary reverse to get away from the blaze, we still decided to cross the flames in order to take shelter.
At the end of the day, as night fell over Africa, the horizon stood out from all darkness, illuminated by fires worthy of a pyrotechnic show. At the very end, the red gates of hell for small beasts, reptiles and micro-mammals unable to escape.
The next day, the earth covered with a black coat offered nothing of the spectacle for which we were preparing by imagining the safari.
The birds were taking advantage of the situation by reveling in the many burnt insects, the herbivores had left the place and the Lions had to be satisfied with the few diehards who had decided to stay.
But as we continued our journey through the bush. A question came to mind. How and why do these important fires start?
By questioning my guide a first explanation reaches my ears. According to him, these fires are necessary to regenerate the savannah a few weeks before the rainy season. The burnt grass will quickly be replaced by fresh, tender grass, appreciated by herbivores, as soon as the first rains fall. Fire is said to have the power to kill ticks and reduce the spread of disease. It is also very beneficial for tourism, by fixing the herbivores, the carnivores are well fed and the show goes on. Moreover, the shaved savannah facilitates observations. The fires would therefore be started voluntarily?
The second explanation that will be provided to me is accidental. The empty bottles that people happily swing in nature, the uncontrolled campfires by tourists traveling independently with their rental car, all accentuated by the extreme drought, could be at the origin of these disasters.
In both cases, the situation is not without consequences. Indeed if we follow the first reasoning, this would mean that the decisions taken to start these fires are only with the aim of improving tourism and the observation of large fauna, to the detriment of micro-fauna. and small mammals that will no longer be able to fulfill their role and contribute to the balance of the ecosystem. Each species has its role and each individual occupies a place necessary to maintain the balance. Out of control, they also endanger the lives of tourists who lack experience and can be caught in the flames.
In the second case, these repeated fires provide sad proof that global warming is indeed here and that, if it is still necessary to convince the skeptics, it is taking on particularly worrying proportions. The long periods of drought coupled with intense heat accentuate the risks and when the fire starts it quickly becomes uncontrollable. The savannah is burning, the wind is accelerating its progression and thousands of hectares are going up in smoke.
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