Fires and Feedback!
As if the challenges of running 2 lodges, 5 campsites and a National Park during our peak visitor season of the magnificent Bat Season aren’t enough, last week Chris and his team were confronted with an even bigger challenge – FIRES. It would appear that these were deliberately set by poachers and were right near the Bat Forest.
It is quite daunting to imagine the scale of the ecological disaster that would befall not only Kasanka, but Africa in general if the fires had broken through their defences! To lose the roosting home of the world’s largest mammal migration would be quite something but somehow, Chris and his small team armed with little more than passion and determination to look after this little piece of conservation glory, kept the fires back.
Here is a recount from Chris: “It has been a hectic few days here in Kasanka, not only have the lodges and campsites been busy with wonderful guests who have enjoyed exploring the park and witnessing one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles but we have been kept on our toes with fighting not one but four fires in the last three days. The southern side of the Kapabi swamp, south of the fire break protecting the bat forest has been reduced to ashes up to the miombo woodland from near the Fibwe public viewing area all the way to the Bupata road in the west. All the fires seem to have been started deliberately as there was no bad weather and rain is still scarce making these areas very vulnerable to fire. The first fire was extinguished mid-morning on 25th only to be lit again late the afternoon and that was extinguished by 21h00 on the same day. On the 27th we were out at 5h30 and by 7h00 the third fire was under control and extinguished. Unfortunately late yesterday afternoon more smoke was visible from the same area and upon inspection and collecting some scouts from Pontoon it soon became apparent after back up arrived from Wasa that this was the big one! It was too hot and fortunately the wind was blowing away from the bat forest but directly into the fire fighting team and so it was decided to avoid any injury to the staff that a we should light a fire along the fire break to meet the main fire and let it burn itself out, which it did by 20h30. The devastation by the fire of the small trees in the swamp area has been devastating but hopefully there will be new growth once the rains arrive.”
With all the chaos, one would have predicted that the guest experience may have been compromised but we are delighted with the latest round of feedback to come from our clients – well done to Chris, Aysan and the team, we are all very proud of your efforts under tough circumstances:
“Firstly, I had a really good time for the three days I had with my group in Kasanka. They were all blown away by the bat experience and spectacle. It was my second time at Kasanka, but first with clients, and it was every bit as good as the first time. Not only did my clients enjoy the bats though, we did have time to birdwatch and look for some of the other species in the park, but obviously this is a bit more specialist and challenging. The standard of guiding was very good – we had Brighton and Webs.” – NICK GARBUTT
“Linda and I would like to thank you very much for our visit a week ago. Kasanka is brilliant and offers so much more than the Straw Coloured Fruit Bats. – even though the fruit bats offer a spectacle unparalleled in my experience. Thank you all for being so friendly too.” – STEPHEN