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Vegetation under threat as wild fire burns Tsavo East National park

Tuesday June 30 2020
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Firefighters from KWS and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust put out a fire at Tsavo East National Park on June 29, 2020. The fire destroyed over 180 acres of vegetation a month after another inferno destroyed over 4,000 acres of the park. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LUCY MKANYIKA

A section of Tsavo East National Park was on Monday on fire again, a month after another inferno destroyed thousands of acres of vegetation there.

The raging fire that started in the morning has affected more than 180 acres of the vast park.

Tsavo Conservation Area Assistant Director Robert Njue said the wild fire broke out at a village between Lebanon and Mwakingali in Voi, Taita Taveta County.

Mr Njue said fire fighters, including rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust were involved in putting out the fire which was spreading very fast due to strong winds and dry vegetation.

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A KWS copper putting out the fire at Tsavo East National Park on June 29, 2020. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

FIRE CONTAINED

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"We used choppers and water bowsers to put out the fire. The team managed to contain the inferno by 5.30 in the evening," he said.

He said the team is on high alert to ensure that the fire is completely put out to avoid any recurrence.

Mr Njue said there was no animal casualties during the fire incident that had threatened thousands of wildlife species found in the park.

He said investigations had revealed that the fire was started by a discarded cigarette butt and urged communities bordering the park not to start fires as they may spread into the protected area.

WIND, DRY VEGETATION

"We have fire breaks around the protected area but due to the dry vegetation and wind the fire spread into the park," he said.

The fire comes barely a month after another inferno consumed more than 4,000 acres of the park.

"We did investigations and found out that the fire was caused by a juvenile so we could not press any charges against him. We are, however, conducting sensitisation forums to make the public understand the implications and risks of lighting fires in these areas," he said.

He said plans are underway to restore vegetation by planting indigenous trees in the affected area.

"Grass has started sprouting in the area burned last month but we have plans to plant trees. We shall involve the public especially students to show them the importance of conserving the environment," he said.

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