FRAGILE ECOSYSTEM

Fire breaks out at Tsavo East National Park, again

In Summary

• “We are in the middle of mobilising to put out the fire,” Njue told the Star.

• The fire started in Bachuma area.

A previous fire at Tsavo.
A previous fire at Tsavo.
Image: COURTESY

Tsavo East National Park was  on Wednesday up in flames yet again, days after  a similar fire was put out by Kenya Wildlife Service.

Robert Njue, the Tsavo Conservation Area assistant director, confirmed the incident to the Star on the phone.

“We are in the middle of mobilising to put out the fire,” Njue told the Star.

The fire started in Bachuma area.

Tourism CS Najib Balala and his PS Prof Fred Segor were unavailable for comment.

Another fire that had engulfed the conservation area was put out on Thursday last week.

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,” the KWS corporate communications department said.

It said the fire had been extinguished before spreading.

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 on Wednesday.

On Friday last week, 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. 

He ruled out illegal activities as the 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.