Lightning Strikes 3 Times
ďIíve seen fire
And Iíve seen rain
Iíve seen sunny days
That I thought would never endĒ
From the song 'Fire and Rainí
I have noticed that crises often come in
threes. Therefore after the Tidi Modise tragedy and the tiger
break out, it was not unexpected when lightning struck a high
mountain at Tiger Canyons, setting the dry grass alight.
Nobody can fight a fire on a mountain, the
terrain is too rugged, the wind too strong and the position too
dangerous. Therefore you wait until the fire comes to ground
level and then you attempt to contain it.
Fire is however a natural and essential part
of the natural process. Old moribund grass is burnt off allowing
new grass to come through. Fire has been changing and modifying
the African Savannah for millions of years.
Therefore what we should be doing is sitting
back and watching Gaia flex her powerful muscles. We should
embrace the fire in all its power and glory. However we canít do
this because we have thousands of sheep, goats and cattle
enclosed in camps.
We are in the throws of a massive drought and
to allow the fire to take the last of the grass would be
catastrophic. So we go to war against the fire.
Everything else except us, rejoices in the
fire. Black eagles fly overhead waiting for the fire to flush
Cape Hair, Rock Hyrax and Peters Red Tailed Rabbits. Rock,
common and red footed kestrels fly above the flames
catching the insects fleeing the fire.
Tortoises crawl into the rocks and monitor
lizards go down holes to escape the heat. Birds, reptiles and
mammals are either benefiting or avoiding the fire.
Humans are fighting a losing battle. One
section of the fire is beaten out, then the wind changes
starting the fire in a new direction.
Farmers come from far and wide to help fight
the fire. Not all are committed. Some want the fire to get into
their farm so they can claim on insurance for loss of grazing.
The firefighters are brought in. They are
receiving double pay so they donít want the fire to end because
they are earning good money.
Typically the fire is at its worst during
Saturday and Sunday. Normally the firefighters would be drinking
in Philippolis, so now they bring the booze to the fire. Drunk
firefighters fighting a fire, a recipe for disaster! One drunk
firefighter collapses in front of the flames and is pulled out
by his legs, seconds before the flames engulf him.
The fire pushed by the wind and drawn by the
38 degree Celcius heat is moving rapidly. The fire moves through
the tiger fence at high speed. Tigers go into the water and
green reed beds where they are safe.
Springbuck and Blesbuck move into the
overgrazed areas where there is no grass to burn. Mountain
reedbuck desert the mountains, their normal safe zone, and join
the Blesbuck and Springbuck on the bare areas. Warthog, antbear and porcupine stay deep down their burrows, cool and
safe. Every animal instinctively knows fire is dangerous. Every
animal ensures their own safety.
On the ground the humans are losing the
battle, the fire swings East, South and West devouring all
before it. I canít help admiring the force and power of the
fire. Small and insignificant I am nothing next to this powerful
force of nature.
My instinct tells me that days are getting
hotter, wind is getting stronger, rain is getting less. Gaia is
flexing her considerable muscle. Red lights are blinking!
The fire races through Tiger Canyons and
onwards to other farms. Some of the fences are damaged.
Thankfully all the tigers are safe.
The burnt area looks like a lunar landscape.
Many of the bushes that tigers need to stalk and ambush prey are
In 2011 Tiger Canyons was nearly wiped out by
the floods. In 2015 fire devastates Tiger Canyons. Gaia Speaks,
Nature Rules, can we listen?
The rain will fall on the burnt areas and a green flush of
new grass will emerge. The game will congregate on the new
grass providing hunting opportunities for tigers.
The river and dense reed beds were too wet to burn. These
provide essential cover and shade for resting tigers.
Tiboís area, Corbett's area and the
cheetah area were not burnt. Tibo and her cubs continue as
We pray to Gaia to send us good rain so
Tiger Canyons can once again return to the Garden of Eden.
Tread Lightly on the Earth
I would like to thank Basil Drew, Diesch
and Elaine Andrews, Riki Pieterse,
Jakob Pieterse, Odette Taute, Keisha Kleinhans, Sunette
Fourie and all the firefighters who came to help us.
To the many farmers who stayed late into the nights fighting
The firefighters from Otterskloof and Laohu Valley.
Rodney Drew who sourced a professional firefighting crew
"In the Jaws of the Tiger Musical"
In the Jaws of the Tiger Musical has been
released. I would like to thank Bobby Johnson the producer,
The Black Dudes, Wendy Oldfield, Leonie, Micki and all the
musicians that worked on the production.
First two songs:
Shingalana in my Tent: