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Park fire consumes 80, 000 hectares

About 80, 000 hectares of moorland section in Mount Kenya National Park have been destroyed by the ongoing fire that started on Saturday.

Addressing the media at Chogoria gate on route to access the situation on the ground, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Chief Conservator Monica Kalenda said 114 fire cases had so far been reported since beginning of the year.

In total, 90, 582 hectares of forest worth one billion shillings has been destroyed in the entire country according to the officer.

Ms. Kalenda said with various partners coming on board such as Rhino Ark, together with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), they were hopeful of putting out the fire that has spread to neighbouring Meru, Laikipia and Kirinyaga counties.
She however noted that it was a bit difficult dealing with fire on Kirinyaga side due to the terrain of the area and strong winds.
“We are hopeful of containing the situation as meteorological department just hinted that it would rain in three weeks’ time,” Ms. Kalenda said.

She said investigations had been launched to establish the cause of the fire but suspected it could have been caused by poachers or honey harvesters.

Ms. Kalenda said her office together with that of KWS would facilitate those fighting the fire by providing them with tents, foodstuffs among other necessities so that they could camp at the affected areas.

KWS Director General Prof Charles Musyoki said they had deployed officers at the high lands to ensure that animals running away to other parts of the park did not get into people’s homes.

The don said they were committed to ensuring that the fire does not spread to the bamboo section whose fire would be more challenging to put off.

Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner Ms. Beverly Opwora pleaded with all stakeholders and nearby community to come out and join hands in putting out the fire.

“I am calling upon all stakeholders to come out and help in putting out the fire that continue to wreak havoc,” Ms. Opwora said.

By Kenneth Marangu

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