SECOND ONE THIS YEAR

Tsavo fires extinguished, surveillance heightened – PS

Residents worried blazes may lead to more human-wildlife conflicts.

In Summary
  • PS says they were started by communities preparing their farms. 
  • In May, an out-of-control inferno destroyed 4,000 acres of Tsavo East National Park before it was finally put out.
Fire at Tsavo Conservation Area.
Fire at Tsavo Conservation Area.
Image: COURTESY

Fires burning in the Tsavo Conservation Area have been been put out.

On Thursday, Kenya Wildlife Service said fires had been reported in the conservation area.

“The first one is in the Taita ranches adjacent to Tsavo East National Park,” KWS corporate communications department said.

 

It said the fire had been extinguished before spreading into the park.

The service said rangers, with the help of other stakeholders, were battling a second fire at the southern part of Tsavo West National park.

KWS said a third fire broke out in Kikunduku, part of Chyulu National Park, at 7.30pm Wednesday.

On Friday, State Department for Wildlife PS Prof Fred Segor told the Star that all the fires had been put out.

"There is no more fire as it was extinguished yesterday [Thursday], " he said.

Segor said the fires were caused by communities living near the park.

"The communities are currently preparing their farms and one of the ways they are doing so is by burning," he said.

 

Segor said the ministry is on high alert and patrols had been intensified. The PS said firebreaks have been cleared.

A firebreak is a gap in vegetation or other combustible material that acts as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of a bush fire or wildfire.

He ruled out illegal activities as a cause of the fires. 

In May, an out-of-control inferno destroyed 4,000 acres of Tsavo East National Park before it was finally put out.

According to KWS, the fire started in a village called Lebanon, 15km from Voi town.

KWS acting head of corporate communications Paul Jinaro said investigations  indicated it was started by a boy who was burning litter.

The twin parks are the largest protected areas in Kenya and are home to most of the large mammals, cat family and 500 bird species, among others. 

On Thursday, communities bordering Tsavo National Park in Taita Taveta county said they fear the fire outbreaks may lead to more human-wildlife conflicts.

“Recurring wildfires would slowly destroy the park and cause human-wildlife conflict. The government should swiftly come up with measures to contain fires,” resident Ben Mwabili said.

Residents said strong winds hampered KWS efforts. 

Segor said firefighting equipment were being serviced before being stationed at strategic places.

"We are also preparing fire observation towers. We have a number of them," he said.

The PS said they are also carrying out awareness among neighbouring communities.

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya