The fire ripped through the dry grasslands. Fueled by a steady breeze and the heat of a scorching Monday morning; what began as the result of a lightning bolt was now a treacherous inferno. The smoke on the horizon was ominous enough and so the lodges of the central Sabi Sands mobilized to fight the rampant bushfire. Habitat teams, game rangers, Landrovers and water trailers raced towards the blaze, determined to contain the wild fire.
In the deep south of Londolozi is a property known as Dudley. Maintained and frequently traversed by Londolozi, this undulating grassland was the perfect candidate for a bushfire. An north-westerly berg wind gave the fire rapid momentum towards the south-eastern Sabi Sands and so action was decisively taken to burn a firebreak on the south-eastern side of the burning block of bushveld.
The management of a bushfire can be a hugely stressful situation. With many different individuals joining the fight, the need for co-ordination and clear thinking is critical. The worst thing you can do is panic. Teams need to work in close communication, each ensuring that their portion of the fire is contained.
What made this morning so remarkable to me was the sense of unity that all the teams from the different lodges played. The eco-tourism industry is growing and game lodges are all in competition with one another. Each destination works hard to attract guests to their lodge above the rest. The funny thing is that when our common purpose is aligned, this competition quickly changes to a brotherhood whereby where are selflessly there to support one another.
This common purpose comes from the knowledge of how difficult it is to contain our own bushfires as well as from the fact that all of us are conservationists first and foremost. Without the pristine bushveld we are caring for, none of us would be able to offer our wilderness and lodge experiences in the first place.
Behind the scenes of the luxury bedrooms, amazing game viewing and sumptuous cuisine are the real challenges of making these destinations sustainable. A huge amount of thanks goes to the Sabi Sands Wildtuin, Singita Sabi Sands, Nottens Bush Lodge, Sabi Sabi and the Londolozi habitat crew for their assistance in fighting this bushfire and ensuring that the magnificence of what we all offer will endure…