A section of the Mount Kenya region is under threat of destruction as a wildfire consumes the forest. Efforts to put out the fire have been ongoing for a week and now the Mount Kenya Trust seeks your help to extinguish the wildfire through crowdfunding.
It has been days – since February 23rd – when the Moorland vegetation in the Mt Kenya National Park caught fire leaving behind devastating destruction of 90,000 hectares of burnt bamboo forests. The wildfire is now threatening the indigenous forest as efforts to put out the fire become difficult as the fire rages on.
In a statement released earlier this week by Monica Kalenda, Kenya Forest Service chief conservator, an estimated 114 forest fires had been reported in the country since January. More than 90,000 hectares of forest worth about Sh1 billion had so far been destroyed, “80,000 hectares of moorland, 388.5 of grass, 93 of exotic plantations, 94 of indigenous plantation, 388 of grass and hectares of other sections have been destroyed,” added Ms. Kalenda.
Reportedly, the wildfire ignited near Lake Ellis in Tharaka Nithi County before spreading to parts of Embu, Laikipia and Kirinyaga.
The battle to stop the wildfire now lies upon the Community Forest Association (CFA) members, The Kenya Forestry Association (KFS) officers, The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers, the Rhino Ark, The David Sheldrick teams and Tropic Air, together with the help of local communities and the government who bought many firefighting equipments.
“Although there were many firefighting equipments bought by the government, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) lacked capacity, such as trained personnel, to use them.” said Ms. Kalenda. Four helicopters have also been deployed to assist in battling the fire. She added that they were looking forward to putting out the fire on the Embu, Laikipia and Tharaka Nithi side.
Human-wildlife conflict is now a rising concern as the surviving wild animals are escaping the affected regions to seek shelter elsewhere, with a likelihood of them invading neighboring human settlements. Tourism in the area is also freezing up as visitors avoid the affected regions due to safety concerns.
Reports released indicate that condition might get worse as strong winds persist and the prolonged dry spell in the region, both fuel the fire to spread further.
The Mount Kenya Trust (MKT) has launched an appeal for funds to help extinguish the wildfire before the forest is also engulfed in flames. They announced local money transfer lines through which people could donate. As at Friday evening, the crowdfunding appeal dubbed ‘Mount Kenya Fires’ had raised about £13,500 out of a target of £15,000. The money will go into funding helicopters (to drop people and douse the affected areas with water), planes for surveillance and to cover costs such as fuel, rations and other equipments.
“Mount Kenya is burning and we urgently need funds to put out the fires raging on the northeastern slopes,” the appeal page read.