Wildlife rangers, soldiers and teams of volunteers have fought to stem a fierce forest fire raging on Mount Kenya national park for nearly a week.
Kenya Wildlife Service, the government agency in charge of national parks, said the fire began on February 23, and estimates that more than 20,000 hectares around the wider Mount Kenya region have been destroyed.
“We have personnel who are using fire swatters, we have a helicopter which is using a bamby bucket, we have a fixed wing aircraft which has a tank, or an air tanker that is dropping water on the fires and so far today, the aircraft has done more than ten airdrops,” said Simon Gitau, Deputy Director, Kenya National Park Service.,
Mount Kenya which is 5,199 metres high, is Africa’s second highest mountain after Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
The park, with the Mountain at its centre, straddles the equator, lying some 193 kilometres north-east of the capital Nairobi.
“The fire has not interfered with the tourism activities especially the people hiking up on the mountain, or visiting the various tourist activities in the park, except the first day when it started when some people going down the chogoria route actually had to wait for some time so that the smoke can clear,” he said.
Mount Kenya was named a World Heritage Site in 1997 by the United Nations, which lists climate change as being one of the most serious long-term threats to the site.