Oudeberg Nature Reserve Fire!

Baviaanskloof Bees & Leopard Friendly Candles
22nd March 2017
Oudeberg Student Programme – Cape Leopard Spoor
5th October 2017

L Caused by a lightning strike, the fire lingered in the Kouga mountains for a day or two before it breached our mountain tops in the morning of 5th April. Earlier that day, our reserve manager found fresh leopard spoor leading away from the smoke-filled mountains towards safety. The wind picked up and it then took only 3 hours for the fire to cover the 10km length (South-North) of the reserve, destroying at least 80% of our veld! Here is a photo of the fire approaching our reserve manager’s cottage, taken as he evacuated.

The wind changed direction and the veld fire turned West, reaching our friends at Blue Hill Nature Reserve before rains finally arrived.

As mentioned in an earlier Blog article, fire is a natural process in this part of the world and a 15-20 year cycle of fire like this actually serves to enhance long-term biodiversity for our area. We can look forward to monitoring how the land recovers (and fauna return), including spotting plants like fire lilies (Cyrtanthus genus), which only appear in the months after a fire. There is a reasonable chance we will find rare or even new species at Oudeberg. In the meantime, the landscape is a rather sorry sight – for instance, the below picture shows ash and blackened bushes where previously there had been a protea paradise.

This blaze reminds us all that this is a true wilderness where Nature rules supreme.