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May 26, 2018

Wildfires threat to water towers and wetlands

Kenya Forest Service and KWS officers put out a fire at the Aberdares National Park last Tuesday /WAMBUGU KANYI
Kenya Forest Service and KWS officers put out a fire at the Aberdares National Park last Tuesday /WAMBUGU KANYI

Wild fires have consumed more than 500 acres of forests in Elgeyo Marakwet and Trans Nzoia counties, Kenya Forest Service has reported.

The two counties boast of Embobut and Cherangay forests, which form the 65,000 hectare Cherangany water tower.

KFS on Sunday said the latest fires have destroyed at least 200 acres of Embobut forest.

The fire started in Tirap on Thursday and spread very fast to different sections of the forest as KFS battled to put it off.

This has been attributed to strong winds experienced during the December-March dry season.

KFS North Rift head of conservancy Dedan Ndiritu said already sections in four forest blocks in the two counties have been extensively destroyed by the fires whose cause is still under investigation.

“We are yet to establish the exact extend of the damage but it has so far destroyed an estimated 500 acres of forest cover," Ndiritu said.

 "We are currently trying to put off the fires at Chesoi forest in Marakwet East which has extensively damaged the indigenous forest.”

Ndiritu said fires at Kipkabus in Elgeyo Marakwet and Saboti and Sosio forests in Trans Nzoia counties have since been contained.

Sections of wetlands have also been destroyed threatening the existence of rivers.

“We have recalled all officers on leave and assembled firefighting equipment to enable us swiftly respond incase of outbreaks,” he said.

Ndiritu appealed to the community especially honey harvesters to desist from starting fires haphazardly, warning this could escalate the fire outbreaks.

“We have talked to communities especially those living around the forest to quickly alert our offices whenever in case of a fire outbreak to be contained before it spreads further,” he appealed.

“It is the duty of each individual to take care of environment and anybody found igniting fire in the forest will be dealt with accordingly,” he warned.

 

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