Rwanda National Police (RNP) has urged the public to take precautions to mitigate and prevent wildfires that tend to be common in the dry spell, destroying national parks and forestry reserves.
The call follows spate of bush fires in different parts of the country partly attributed to recklessness and illegal activities.
According to the Eastern Region Police Spokesperson Inspector of Police (IP) Emmanuel Kayigi, most fires in this province are started by pastoralists, who assume that burning their farms in dry season gives way for fresh grass to grow and an ingredient to increased milk production.
“Something done by one person can affect the entire community and nation. It should be the responsibility of everyone to take precautions and prevent such incidents, and in case it occurs, be quick to call Police and organize the community to respond before the fire escalates,” IP Kayigi said.
In the past two years, wildfires have destroyed at least 488 hectares.
In the Western region, only one case of wildfire was reported last month gutting about one hectare of Mukula forest.
Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Theobard Kanamugire, Police Spokesperson for the Western Region said that bush fires in the province are in most cases caused by illegal charcoal burning.
“We have intensified operations and awareness on environmental protection and this has paid in terms of prevention and identifying people and activities that affect the environment,” said CIP Kanamugire.
Two cases were reported since last month where a resident in Ruhango burnt his farmland twice in an attempt to clear the land while in the Northern region, three hectares were recently burnt in Gakenke District.
In a bid to prevent such incidents, police established an Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) that has since rolled out an awareness programme in communities educating people about the environmental dangers of bush burning.
The EPU operating under the Criminal Investigation Department, is mandated to protect environment in all its aspects including air space, forestry and biodiversity, and the enforcement of different legal instruments.
Also, in line with focusing on prevention rather than consequences, RNP has since trained over 20,000 people on mechanisms to avoid fire outbreaks.
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