NYAGATARE - Wild fires yesterday broke out in Akagera National Park, destroying part of it and injuring four rangers.
The injured game rangers, whose clothes caught fire in frantic attempts to put off the fire, were immediately rushed to Nyagatare hospital in Eastern Province.
Hours later, they were transferred to King Faisal Hospital in Kigali. According to the Director of Administration and Finance of the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) Alfred Ntaganda, the fires were caused by poachers.
“The fire struck at around 3 in the morning and these rangers were manning the nearby post in the park. They were trying to put down the heavy fires when they were suddenly engulfed by the inferno,” Ntaganda said yesterday.
Fires, always suspected to be sparked off by poachers in the park, have struck Akagera three times in two months, and such incidents underline the continued threat posed by some elements around the park.
Most poachers reportedly cross from Tanzania. “It is not surprising because it is not the first time,” Ntaganda, who was by press time still at King Faisal Hospital, said. The Director General of Rwanda Office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) Chantal Rugamba could not be reached for comment.
It was not possible to establish the extent of destruction as a result of the inferno by the time we went to press.
In 2004, about one-third of the park was destroyed by fires suspected to have been caused by Tanzanian poachers.
Additional reporting by Innocent Gahigana