- The wild fires that have engulfed the Kenyan forests since Saturday have sent tens of thousands of animals fleeing. The animals are also reported to be in danger as water sources are almost drying up at Mount Longonot, local officials have said.
The police officials said they suspect some of the still-raging blazes were started by communities to make space for farmland. “The fires have had an adverse effect on the Masai Mara and in Tanzania on the Serengeti national park,” officials said.
The official said Mount Longonot, an extinct volcano popular with hikers, continued to burn on Monday, with game wardens concerned that animals such as baboons, rabbits and mongoose were trapped inside the crater of the extinct volcano.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said many of the rivers feeding Lake Nakuru, home to hundreds of thousands of flamingoes, have partially dried up because of the blaze, putting in danger many birds.
The KWS has previously warned that human settlement in the Mau forest was drying up the rivers and threatening Lake Nakuru.
The villagers said they have been fighting pockets of fires in the forest in the past weeks, claiming that the fires had been started by people who wanted to derail the conservation of the forest.
“There is a group which has been claiming that this is their ancestral land and are angry that our people were allocated plots here by the government. They are now trying every trick to ensure that we are removed,” a villager was quoted to have said by local media reports.
The Njoro district commissioner Jim Njoka said the government is fed up with the local communities who cannot claim the responsibility of the raging fires, saying the government will relocate settlers if they are failing to protect the forest.
“If it means removing you, then we will do that,” Mr Njoka said.
Nearly 60 species of wildlife, including the white rhino, depend on the lake. By Sunday an estimated 200 hectares (500 acres) of woodland had been razed in Mau, the East Africa's largest indigenous forest.
Logman and Neisuit forests, covering a total of 8,000 hectares in the Mau Complex, were the most affected by the fires.
Mau Forest is the biggest water catchment area in the country and its destruction has drawn condemnation locally and abroad.
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