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Wildfires Threaten Murchison Falls National Park

Constant wildfires at Uganda’s biggest national park, Murchison Falls, are posing a major threat its animal population and their habitat, officials have said.

The park, which is famously known for its various rare species, is fast losing them to uncontrolled fires.

John Kafu a ranger at the park says the local communities neighboring the park practice shifting cultivation which involves cutting down trees and bushes and setting fire to open up gardens for the new planting seasons, which fires often end up in the park.

“Some others are as a result of the carelessness by some visitors who smoke cigarettes and leave them any were they find and since the grass is dry it can easily catch fire,” he said

Kafu told Chimpreports that these fires burn miles of land and eliminate hundreds of animals especially reptiles which are unable to flee fast.

“At the moment the park has no capacity to fight this fire when it starts and it puts the population of the animals at stake. We try to create fire barriers that help manage the fire but sometimes it goes out of control and we don’t have the machinery to stop it,” he said.

Kafu added that some of the fires are started by poachers to drive the animals out if their hiding places and also to clear out the bushes so they can spot them easily.

Kafu highlighted a need for community sensitization to show the locals the importance of having a national park and how they can directly benefit from it.

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