Mt Kenya forest rangers and volunteers are battling flames and strong winds to put out a raging fire that has been burning for days now.
Tens of thousands of hectares of bamboo forest in Mount Kenya are under threat from the fire.
According to an official with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the government agency in charge of national parks, the fire started on Saturday night and was “moving very fast.”
It has already wiped out several square kilometers of bushland and is now threatening indigenous forests in Mt. Kenya.
East Africa has Africa’s largest natural bamboo forests. According to the CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), it accounts for approximately 3-4 percent of total known bamboo coverage worldwide.
This Mt Kenya forest fire is burning on two fronts and is spread by high temperatures and strong winds. It threatens one of the five highland areas known as Kenya’s “water towers”, which feed the rivers and provide three-quarters of the country’s freshwater.
Mt. Kenya Forest environmentalists have mobilized the community and various organizations in the area, and they have done their best… It’s just that they were completely overwhelmed.
The fight to put out the fire is being led by more than 125 people from the local community, the forestry and wildlife services, and private conservation organizations, who are on the ground with basic firefighting equipment.
Rhino Ark, a conservation charity in Kenya, said on Twitter that it had deployed helicopters to conduct aerial surveys of the area to estimate the extent of damage to the forest cover.
The Mt Kenya Trust, a body set up to conserve the country’s forests, said Sunday that a team had “headed up to help with the bushfires in the forest.