31 December 2005

Kenya: Elephants in Danger Due to Forest Fires

Nairobi — The lives of hundreds of elephants at Rumuruti forest are threatened by bush fires caused by farmers clearing their fields and charcoal burners.

Laikipia district forest officer Alfred Abong'o said yesterday that the dry spell had worsened the situation in especially Rumuruti, South Marmanet and Ewaso Narok.

He said his office could not to control activities due to lack of personnel, and urged the Kenya Wildlife Service to help the forest rangers to contain the situation.

Some 100 acres of the Marmanet forest and parts of South Marmanet were extensively damaged during the Christmas holidays, he noted. He said it took his men and volunteers two days to put out the fire.

He also blamed the situation on lack of funds to enable his team to monitor the activities.

People, preparing their land for cultivation should desist from lighting fires and those caught will be severely punished.

Mr Abong'o said that two charcoal burners had been arrested and charged in a Nyahururu court for defying his orders.

He urged residents bordering forests to co-operate with forest officers to control the fires.

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