Fire that Threatened World Heritage iSimangaliso Wetland Park Under Control in South Africa

A wild fire that burned across parts of iSimangaliso Wetland Park in uMkhuze, KwaZulu-Natal, last night – threatening the world heritage site – is now “back under control” thanks to brave firefighters, officials in South Africa confirmed this morning.

Last night iSimangaliso posted frightening photos of the “unplanned bush fire”, asking its followers to “spare a thought and a prayer for our brave colleagues fighting this”.

Park management and fire fighting teams battled the flames through the night, managing to finally contain the spread of the fire at around 03h30 this morning.

Just before 09h00 Saturday morning, iSimangaliso announced “fire situation back under control in #uMkhuze” and said “many thanks to all who responded and offered support”.

The wildfire was first reported late yesterday afternoon. Dry conditions posed an extra threat to the fire spreading, with fears it could destroy parts of the World Heritage Site.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, about 275 kilometres north of Durban, is South Africa’s third-largest protected area, spanning 280 km of coastline, from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the Lake St. Lucia estuary. It was listed for its outstanding natural values as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1999.

Fortunately the Park said today that “our extremely special part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site is still going strong!”

Officials said there are no reports of damaged infrastructure.

This morning the Park cautioned visitors to be “extremely careful” driving in the affected areas as burning trees could still suddenly fall across roads.

“It is better to avoid burning areas for a couple of days until the situation has been assessed and cleared,” said Isimangaliso.

Messages of support were posted to the Park with many thanking the firefighters and sparing a thought for the “defenceless animals that were caught in the fire”.

The Park said Saturday morning that the KuMasinga Hide is open and active with “lions, cubs, elephant there right now…”

Spare a thought and a prayer for our brave colleagues fighting this in #uMkhuze right now! Thanks to Kate Church for photos. Stay safe.

Posted by iSimangaliso Wetland Park on Friday, July 19, 2019