A charred 2017

Still think fire isn’t a cause for concern in the conservation realm?  Think again.

This is without National Park boundaries…and I can see EXACTLY where Kafue, Sioma Ngwezi and Luiwa Plains NPs are.

Note the western side burns earlier in the year than the eastern side.  This can be attributed to rainfall and vegetation types, possibly even human population (most notably in the north-western part around the Bangweulu swamps and the lakes).  Human population cannot be used to explain the fires in Kafue NP though…or the lack of such huge fires in the GMAs surrounding the Kafue NP.  The Luangwa Valley is also easily found, with the river being quite an obvious black line (i.e. lack of burnt area), as is the upper Zambezi River.

Zambia burns 2017.jpeg

This is with National Park boundaries.

Zambia burns 2017 with NPs.jpeg

This map, while not giving much information to the audience, shows the extent of burnt area in Africa south of the northern DRC border in 2017.  Note the Miombo belt was significantly burnt and the absence of fire in the central African rain forest.  Interestingly Malawi doesn’t show much burning, which, if we’re using human population or density as a predictor of fire, contradicts our general linking of population and fire prevalence.

central southern africa burn 2017.jpeg


I made these maps using NASA MODIS burned area data in QGIS.



Burning to the ground: first 1/2 of 2017

As I mentioned in a previous post, fire is rarely cited as a significant threat to wildlife.  Of course, it is acknowledged as a threat to habitat…which means it is a threat to wildlife.

I’ve just made a couple of simple maps here using NASA MODIS data and QGIS mapping software to illustrate just how important fire is in conservation.  One is of Zambia and the other shows Africa south of the northern DRC border.


zambia fire jan-jul2

Burned area extent in Zambia from January – July 2017; green areas indicate National Parks. Note the difference between Kafue National Park (the big one on the left) and South Luangwa National Park (the big one on the right); they have different conservation programmes. Which do you think is more successful, looking at this data?  Data: NASA MODIS, software: QGIS

congo south fir jan-jul

Burned area extent in Africa south of the northern DRC border between January and July 2017.  While fire doesn’t seem like a huge conservation issue in several countries (e.g. Namibia, Botswana and Kenya; all are pretty arid, desert-like anyway), it is most definitely a challenge in South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and DRC.  It is said that Zambia has some of the most important big carnivore populations, given this illustration it would be safe to say fire management is right up there with poaching as a threat to wildlife conservation.  Data: NASA MODIS, software: QGIS