Wildfire destroys 24,710 acres of moorland in Mt Kenya Park

Mt Kenya Forest where fi re has burnt 24,710 acres of moorland /COURTESY

A fire has destroyed 24,710 acres of moorland within Mt Kenya National Park. It has not been contained.

The worst-affected parts are in Kirinyaga and Chogoria.

The fire broke out on Saturday, just days after the Kenya Forest Service warned that the dry weather could lead to wildfires.

Yesterday aerial surveillance of Mt Kenya was undertaken by acting chief conservator of forests Monica Kalenda and Kenya Wildlife Service acting director general Charles Musyoki.

Kalenda said firefighters and communities adjacent to the forest are trying to contain and put out the fire.
“Strong winds and difficult terrain are a challenge,” Kalenda said.

At least five forests have been struck by fire in the past month.

In the last one week, fires burned parts of Menengai and Eburu forests in Nakuru county and Londiani Forest in Kericho county. In Menengai, the fire destroyed 100 acres.

Fire also destroyed 40 acres of Seng’alo Forest, Uasin Gishu.

In Seng’alo Forest, KFS officials said some fires are suspected to have been set by men living adjacent to the forest. They had served prison sentences for crimes associated with forest destruction, they said.
The fire was contained by residents, and officers from the KWS, KFS and the Uasin Gishu firefighting department.

Early in the month, KFS urged the public to stop activities that lead to forest fires. They include charcoal burning, harvesting honey, burning litter, lighting campfires and dropping lit cigarette butts.
Communities living around forests have been asked to be on the lookout for signs of fire.

The dry seasons of January to March and August to September are characterised by high temperatures and low humidity. Forests, brush and grasslands become tinder-dry.

Conservators have dismissed the notion that burning forests brings rains. Fires cause massive destruction and forests take many years to recover.

In 2017, more than 17,000 acres of the Aberdares Forest were destroyed by fire. In that year, wildfire destroyed 220 acres of indigenous trees in Menengai Forest. The flames were fanned by winds, raising fears ithe fire could spread to the neighbouring homes.

In March 2015, more than 300 acres of the forest were destroyed.

In 2015, 4,000 acres of the Maasai Mau Forest were destroyed by fire. The forest is the source of Mara River. More than 10 families were left homeless and fled to Narok county.


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