On 27 January, a burnout of 11.5kms – from north to south borders of the Elandsberg Nature Reserve – was conducted to prevent the wild fires coming down the mountainside from getting into the reserve. But apart from some very scary moments, we managed to contain it. However, on 1 February, the wind blew a a spark across the firebreak into the endangered Geometric Tortoise habitat.
Under extremely windy conditions the fire, which had been quietly smouldering in the Elandsberg mountains, woke up and managed to throw a spark across the firebreak.
The Elandsberg team, neighbours, Cape Nature, Cape Winelands District Muncipaliy and the Drakenstein Municipality all responded to the early morning call for help, but despite all the help over 500 hectares of tortoise habitat was burned in a few chaotic hours.
Elandsberg rangers and friends, as well as Bartholomeus Klip staff and guests took part in our efforts to rescue endangered Geometric Tortoises from wildfires in scorching 40°C conditions.
The various teams (from Elandsberg, Cape Nature, Drakenstein and CWDM) worked like clockwork, the wind played along nicely, and the helicopters arrived at exactly the right time (before speeding off to fight more fires in the region).
From reserve manager Bernard Wooding : “We all heaved a sigh of relief when Sunday dawned and there had been no flare-ups that night.”
From our reserve manager: “Happy to report that the wind still blows in our favour. The head of the fire is now heading to Bainskloof and creeping up behind Bontebok Ridge.”
Fire fighters had a very difficult night of firefighting following a change in the wind direction late yesterday afternoon. The fire which was situated in the Suurvlakte area split into two lines, one line on the Wolseley side of the Obiqua Mountain (also known as the Watervalberg) and another on the Wellington side.
The Cape Winelands District Municipality’s (CWDM’s) Fire Services can confirm that fire on the Suurvlakte/Silwerfontein side of the mountain above Wolseley continues to burn out of control.
Ground teams will continue with monitoring and mopping-up operations on all previously burned flat ground, specifically in the areas in Kluitjieskraal.
The CWDM Fire Services and partners will continue with active firefighting today, focusing on preventing the fire from spreading. Activities will be made difficult by the very hot, windy weather, in excess of 39°C that has been predicted.