A positive perspective following the fires

by CapeNature

News broke shortly after New Years that mountains along the Betty’s Bay coast had caught fire, making devastating headlines as the situation quickly escalated. The fire spread quickly and posed concern for communities within the Hermanus region and a group effort by multiple fire-fighting agencies was required in order to tackle the multitude of flames wreaking havoc in the small seaside towns.

Smoke from the fire as seen across the coastline before making its way into the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Top image by Justin Sullivan

The immediate fire scene was nothing short of shocking. The impact of the fires was overwhelming however teams kept going and remained positive. From an ecological point of view, various fauna and flora being saved paid testament to staff who put their lives on the line trying to save whatever was in their pathway including structures whilst ecological staff quickly set up a wildlife rescue facility with the local animal welfare society.

The CapeNature ecological team and the local animal welfare society join forces to set up a wildfire rescue facility in Kleinmond.

Teams responded to requests from people all over evacuating their homes and leaving animals behind – our ecological team accepted this as a challenge to save as many animals as they possibly could, under the dire circumstances. Teams managed to save a poodle and relocate it with her owner whilst the regional ecologist ended up with a hen and her chicks in the back of a bakkie. A Kogelberg field ranger was able to rescue a baby mouse, releasing it into a safe area later.

A little mouse saved by one of the CapeNature field rangers.

Along with the fire-fighters and ecological staff, the local surrounding communities also played a huge role in assisting those in need! Residents from Kleinmond and Bettys Bay provided meals to fire-fighters and donated items including dog food, blankets and clothes for the people whom had to evacuate their homes. Although it may not be much compensation for those adversely affected by the fire, from a positive point of view it was an exciting time witnessing the community spirit of those willing to help, despite the situation at hand.

Fire-fighters and volunteers are treated to supper by local Kleinmond and Betty’s Bay residents.

WHAT TO DO WHEN ENCOUNTERING ANIMALS POST-FIRE:

  • DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS:
    Wild animals will naturally move towards an alternative habitat and feeding them prevents them from naturally vacating the area.
  • DRIVE CAREFULLY:
    Road verges provide food for wildlife such as small antelope and primate species as these areas are often intact and good for grazing and will be feeding close to the road.
  • PLEASE STAY OUT OF NATURAL AREAS, NO HIKING:
    Refrain from accessing any natural areas in the region where there are still active or smoldering fire lines.
  • REPORT ALL ANIMALS FOUND:
    Do not approach an injured animal or put yourself in any danger, rather contact CapeNature directly or your local animal welfare organisation.

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