Fire ravages 34.2 sqkm of Mount Kilimanjaro ecosystem

Fire ravages 34.2 sqkm of Mount Kilimanjaro ecosystem

DAR ES SALAAM, Nov 28 (NNN-DAILYNEWS) — A TOTAL of 34.2 square kilometres of Africa’s rooftop has been destroyed by the raging fire that erupted on the mountain for the last year.

This is equivalent to 1.9 per cent of the total area of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park ecosystem which spans 1,712 square kilometers.

Tanzania National Parks Conservation Commissioner, William Mwakilema, told reporters here that the fire’s outbreak on the Mountain had left behind a trail of destruction, with the wealth of vegetation on Africa’s Highest bearing the most brunt.

“The most affected plants in the fires include Erica sp., Protea sp., Kniphonia thomsonii, Herichrysum sp, grasses, Bracken ferns, Myrica salicifolia, Lobelia deckenii, mountain gladiolus and Senecio kilimanjarica,” disclosed the Conservation Commissioner while giving a summary update on the wildfire that swept through the Mountain.

Apart from the vegetation, the fire didn’t spare slow moving mammals such as herpatofauna, snakes, dick dicks, lizards and rodents.

Much as the fire has been contained, Mwakilema was quick to point out the lack of expertise and experience of battling mountain fires as one of the key reasons, delaying putting out the fire and result to the inferno spreading to other areas as well.

“Most of the firefighters weren’t experienced enough, especially in high altitude areas,” he said.

According to the TANAPA boss, some areas hugely affected by the wildfire weren’t easy for the firefighters to reach on time, forcing authorities to call off the exercise.

Mwakilema noted that the area was synonymous with windstorms, which can be a major cause of the fire to even spread further.

“The gaping ravines in Karanga, Baranco, Umbwe, Lyamungo and Mweka dealt us a huge blow in containing the blaze,” he recalled.

The TANAPA Conservation Commissioner suggested that the fire was as a result of human activities on top of the mountain, adding that the conservation agency was teaming up with security organs in bringing to book those behind the wildfire.

Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, about 4,900 metres from its base, and 5,895 metres above sea level, making it one of the seven summits.

Rising majestically above the African plains, the 19,341-feet mountain has beckoned to climbers since the first recorded summit in 1889. It is one of the continent’s magnificent sights and has three main volcanic peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. — NNN-DAILYNEWS


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