- Deadly fires have razed over 657 square kilometres of the Kenya’s biggest conservation area.
- For the last three months, there have been several fire outbreaks in the conservation area and neighbouring ranches.
The Kenya Wildlife Service is pursuing arsonists linked to bush fires that have razed thousands of acres of Tsavo National Park, Wildlife PS Fred Sigor has revealed.
Sigor linked illegal livestock herders, honey harvesters and charcoal burners to the fires that have wiped out over 657 square kilometres of Kenya’s biggest conservation area.
“For the last three months, there have been several fire outbreaks in the conservation area and neighbouring ranches. About 3 per cent of the Tsavo National Park has been wiped out by the fierce fire,” Sigor noted.
The local farming community, Sigor said, was also to blame for the fires that might trigger human-wildlife conflict.
“Three of the fires started from the community and spread to the conservancies. The farming community is currently clearing their land using fire,” the PS added.
He spoke during a consultative meeting with regional security heads, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and wildlife stakeholders in Mwatate, Taita Taveta county, on Tuesday.
The meeting was attended by among other officials KWS director general John Waweru, Coast regional coordinator John Elungata, regional police commander Gabriel Musau and Taita Taveta county commissioner Rodah Onyancha.
Sigor lauded the community for teaming up to help put off a huge fire that razed a section of the park at the weekend.
He revealed that KWS had spent more than Sh10 million to fight the fire.
“The agency had requested at least Sh20 million. We have not finalised the exact amount used in this exercise. Most of the assistance came in kind from partners and government agencies.”
Sigor said surging cases of wildfire had negatively affected conservation.
Elungata asked ranchers to collaborate with security officers to bring to book people suspected to have started the fires.
He said detectives had taken up the matter and all suspects shall be arrested.
“Fires being a menace at this time must be fought collaboratively. Government administrators on the ground have been directed to identify livestock keepers in the area so as to identify illegal grazers," Elungata said.
He cautioned the community against starting fires near the conservation area.
Edited by Henry Makori