Major forest fire breaks out in Aberdares, several acres destroyed

The fire broke out on Saturday, February 5

Major forest fire breaks out in Aberdares, several acres destroyed

Since Saturday, forest rangers and volunteers have continued to battle flames and strong winds to stop a fierce fire raging across the Aberdare national park for nearly 72 hours.

The blaze broke out on Saturday night, according to an official working for Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the government body in charge of national parks, who said the fire was “moving very fast”.

“It is on the grasses, it is spreading and very windy,” the official told press on condition of anonymity, explaining that he was not authorised to speak to media.

“We have mobilised the community and staff around and today they have really tried their best… it is only that they were overwhelmed.”

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 Mount 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 Aberdares. “They will camp and hit the fires at first light,” it said on Twitter.

Located in the Aberdare mountain range, the park is home to spectacular waterfalls and lush bamboo jungles as well as a variety of wildlife including leopards, elephants and critically endangered black rhinos.

The Aberdares are the third highest mountain range in Kenya, reaching a summit of just over 4.000 metres.

In recent days, concern has grown over a contentious proposal before parliament which could allow politicians to determine if public forest can be carved out and handed over to private interests.

The amendment to the Forest Conservation and Management Act reforms passed after decades of rampant land clearing has roused significant community anger and sparked fears that it could result in unchecked logging and environmental destruction.

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