An exceptional artist and wildlife conservationist shares his comments on Kruger fires, and samples of his art work…

Photo of the fires across the Crocodile River, taken from Marloth Park side a few nights ago. (Not our photo).

Long ago, I ran across a member of several Marloth Park Facebook groups, Dawie Fourie, a conservationist, wildlife, and nature artist who often posts his stunning works of art. His frequent posts are rife with an appreciation of Marloth Park and its wild animals as well as those in Kruger National Park, both of which he’s visited many times over the years.

Having worked at the Veterinary Research Institute Onderstepoort, he has a vast knowledge and understanding of nature, far beyond average laypersons and amateur photographers like us.  As a professional artist for over 35 years, he’s had an opportunity to delve into the intricacies of many aspects of wildlife and life in the veld (an open, uncultivated country or grassland in southern Africa. It is conventionally divided by altitude into highveld, midlevel, and Lowveld).

What a stunning photo of the fires in Kruger National Park. (Not our photo).

A few days ago, when several of our friends sent us photos of fires in Kruger National Park, of course, we became alarmed and concerned for the wildlife as well as the park itself. The Crocodile River separates Marloth Park from Kruger, and thus, we were less concerned about Marloth Park, its people, and its wildlife being impacted by the fires.

When we read the following statement, Dawie had posted it on Facebook. It presented us with an entirely different perspective. We’ve been well aware of fires intentionally set In Kruger National Park to create new vegetation for the wildlife when the scorched areas recover and regrow.

We’d driven through Kruger National Park in September 2018, when embers were still burning, and the air was filled with smoke after a planned burn, as described in our post here at this link. We’d included several photos of the devastation that resulted from the burn.

Dozens of photos flooded Facebook during the fires. We are unable to determine who took the photos, but thanks to all who posted. (Not our photo).

After conducting considerable research about intentional fires set in national parks, we developed a better understanding of why such fires, if adequately controlled, are beneficial to the bush and its inhabitants.

In any case, the following is what Dawie Fourie wrote in his Facebook post a few days ago. By the way, I contacted him to ask his permission to quote him and post his photos. He’s enthusiastically offered a generous “yes.” Thank you, Dawie!

“If you live on Seekoei’s side of Marloth Park and I said something about the veld-fires from the last week, you will say – tell me all about it! 😑

For days now, there has been a cloud of smoke hanging over Marloth Park as veld fires or bushfires burn in Kruger Park. A lot of people ask the question, why don’t they put out the fires. Well, here’s the very short answer:

Bushfires are widespread in African Savannas, especially during the dry season between May and October. Fires in Kruger are managed using the patch mosaic fire philosophy, whereby fires are ignited at selected localities and left to burn to create a natural patch mosaic of burnt and unburned patches. All fires in the Kruger National Park are mapped monthly using satellite imagery and information gathered by Rangers.

Dawie’s paintings are so exquisite. They appear to be photographs taken by a professional photographer. Contact him at the link below for more information.

These patch fires, although randomly ignited, are closely monitored by the Section Rangers and only ignited under favorable conditions when the Fire Danger Indices (FDI’s) are low to moderate. Patch fires are selectively used to reduce fuel and create patches of burnt and unburnt areas. This generally prevents the hot, high-intensity uncontrolled fires from becoming unmanageable later in the season.

Rangers will generally stop setting fires when the FDI’s become too high and conditions too dangerous. This usually happens during August and September when hot berg wind conditions can easily cause fires to run away and turn into disaster fires. Once the rainy season starts, lightning fires may occur, and such fires are allowed to burn freely to allow lightning a chance to contribute as one of the natural sources of fire.

During a fire, the grass layer is often burnt completely. However, only the dead leaves are burnt, while the roots are still healthy. The early burns may sometimes resprout, and this green flush during the dry season will benefit certain antelope species. Research also indicates that bush encroachment tree species, such as sickle bush, may be knocked back by these burns, giving improved game viewing pleasure as a positive spin-off.

Another stunning painting by Dawie Fourie!

Animals can hear, feel and smell a fire when it is still very far away, and most mammals typically have enough time to escape. Snakes and many kinds of insects run into holes in the ground, where they are safe because the heat from the fire front seldom penetrates the soil below 5 cm depth.

The fire that was burning across from Marloth Park was started by lightning a couple of days ago, and, in line with the policy, it is left to burn.

Unfortunately, the fire management policy of the Park is a highly complex one and can’t be fully explained in such a short piece. For those interested in more scientific detail about fires, you can contact Scientific Services in Skukuza.”

For inquiries about Dawie’s artwork, please email him:

We are grateful the fires were contained, and hopefully, the wildlife could escape in ample time. In months to come, the veld will recover, and the green grasses, plants, and trees again will increase, and nature will be at its finest in those areas.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2020:

 This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #208. My nightly dessert in Kenya was fine cheese with cashews and macadamia nuts. The night of the “bush dinner,” Chef Ambrose had remembered to bring these items for my dessert, as the only guest in camp unable to eat the traditional desserts. Wow! For more photos, please click here.

Kruger was on fire…Charred bush on both sides of the tar road …What’s going on?…

Upon entering Kruger National Park from the Crocodile Bridge, we encounter the devastation from fires on both sides of the tar road for many kilometers. Many downed trees were still smoking, as shown in this photo.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Vervet monkey drinking water off the roadway.

To provide our readers with new photos in each day’s post, we often have to consider our inventory of new images. Posting each day usually leaves us short of new and different photos. When this happens every so often, we make a special effort, rain or shine, to get out in search of more shots.

Yesterday was such a day. We were recently preoccupied with immigration issues and hadn’t taken the time to go into Kruger since we returned from Zambia and Botswana on August 23rd.  

We hadn’t been to Kruger since August 1st, based on crowds during the holiday season. Plus, we were away, and when we returned, we were preoccupied with the visa situation. Finally, we went to the park to find this burnt bush along both sides of the road during a one-hour drive along the tar road.

We hadn’t been to Kruger since August 1st due to the crowds during the holiday season, which continues, although less at the moment. It will begin to ramp up again by September 21st, the first spring day in this part of the world.  Also, school holidays start on September 24th and will continue well into October.

The peace we’re enjoying now will change entirely during the above period. We must remain patient while we focus on enjoying the wild animals that visit during this time and the exquisite scenes that will continue on the Crocodile River, which we can see from the Marloth Park side of the fence between the two parks. The crowds have no bearing on wildlife visiting the river.

The terrain was now hostile for wildlife, and there had been reports from tourists seeing dead animals burned to death in the fires. Heartbreaking.

Our expectations weren’t high when we crossed the Crocodile Bridge into the park, where there was no wait at the entrance gate. We showed our passports, the completed entry form, and our WildCard (yearlong) pass to gain entrance.

It was raining when we entered. In essence, we were happy it was raining when it’s so good for the wildlife to have better water sources and the greening of the vegetation providing abundant food sources.  

Baboons are drinking and playing in the rainwater on the tar road in Kruger.

As dry as it has been these past months, rain is undoubtedly welcomed as a valuable regeneration resource for the bushveld and its wildlife. We’ve never heard any locals complaining about any rainy weather, nor do we. And soon, the rainy season will begin in full force, the closer we get to spring.

As we began the drive along the tar road, our preferred route in the little cars, knowing full well wildlife can be anywhere whether it’s on the tar road or the many dirt roads since they are always on the move regardless of the road surface, we couldn’t help but notice the bush looking more and more charred as we continued on.

Bird of prey in a tree.

Within about 10 minutes, we were surrounded by smoldering trees with smoke wafting through the air on both sides of the road. It even smelled of smoke in the car with the windows closed, and I found myself choking from time to time. Tom, a former smoker, and fireman didn’t seem to notice it as much as I did. For more information on fires in Kruger National Park, please click here.

After the sad drive along the tar road and choking from the smoke, we decided to take the dirt road loop back to the Crocodile Bridge, another hour-long drive.  

The further we drove, the worse it became. We spotted a few animals drinking rainwater out of the puddles and ruts in the road and none in the bush. 

After driving for over an hour, shocked by what we were seeing and anxious to see at least a little wildlife, we took the loop turnoff back to the Crocodile Bridge.  There was no way we were interested in seeing more of the burnt bush.

Once we took the turnoff onto the dirt road, we no longer were driving through the burnt area of the bush and were able to spot a few animals.

After some online research and asking friends, we discovered most likely it was a controlled burn meant to ultimately replenish the vegetation for the benefit of the park and its wildlife.

We couldn’t help but wonder how many animals may have died during the controlled fires. Most animals would flee to safer areas during a fire regardless of its source or intention. From time to time, there are fires during the dry season from human carelessness and lightning.

We were thrilled to see a few giraffes wandering through the bush.

The Rangers set this recent vast fire on both sides of Gomondwane Road (the paved road) and burned for many, many days and kilometers. Since we hadn’t been to Kruger in over a month, we had no idea.

Once on the dirt road, we encountered wildlife but in the rain, very little.  For the first time, we didn’t see a single elephant, a rarity. Next time we go to Kruger, we won’t bother to travel along the tar road once the holidaymakers are reduced in numbers. Instead, we’ll follow other routes, of which there are many in the enormous national park.

Generally, when it’s raining, the animals take cover in dense bush and under trees. As a result, we only spotted a few animals even after we left the burnt area.

Over the next few days, we will share more photos. Today, we’re busy getting ready for tonight’s small dinner party with friend Don (of Kathy and Don…she’s in California right now) and his visiting brother Keith. No doubt, as always, it will be an enjoyable evening.

Last night we had a fabulous evening at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant.  The food was superb, the ambiance ideal, and we had an opportunity to meet new people, two of whom joined us at our table for four during dinner. The place is lively and often filled with friendly South Africans who never fail to engage in great conversation.

Male impala drinking rainwater from the road during the downpour.

The same theme reverberates through the restaurant each time we visit.  Whether tourists or locals, everyone in attendance is enthralled to be among the divine abundance of nature and wildlife in the bush.

Enjoy the day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 9, 2017:

Gabriel, the owner of El Toledo Coffee Factory in Costa Rica, explained the different roasts attributed to the varying degrees of flavor and caffeine.  Again, we were shocked to discover that dark roast, although possessing a more pungent taste, has the least caffeine, contrary to what most believe. For more on the coffee factory, please click here.