17-03-2022 by redazione
The forest on the slopes of the extinct volcano Menengai and its huge crater, in the area of Lake Nakuru, has suffered serious ecological damage after the fire that in recent days has devastated at least 70 hectares of pristine nature.
Only thanks to the coordinated intervention of the Nakuru Fire Brigade with the rangers of the Kenya Forest Service and the help of the prison police, after a day of battle, the fire was tamed.
In the aftermath of yet another fire (a month ago 550 hectares of the most famous forest had been burned) Kenya wonders why this devastation has occurred, especially because it is now certain that the hand of man is behind it.
Either by will or by neglect, in any case, human activities have pushed close to areas that have always been considered untouchable nature reserves, but which today tremble in the face of the settlements of rural communities pushed further and further away from expropriated or urbanized areas.
In the case of Menengai, the fire has come to threaten two settlements that only a few years ago were simply shepherds' and farmers' shacks. Now the villages of Milimani and London see their vegetation at risk, as well as that of the forest. But there are also those who, thanks to the fires, will procure charcoal for domestic use or resell it despite the fact that the law punishes those who procure charcoal wood inside forest parks. But how does the law regulate if the wood has already been charred?
According to some residents, the fire may have been caused by a carelessly thrown cigarette, but other accounts point to residents grazing their livestock, taking them into the forest in search of water during the prolonged dry spell.
The most likely hypothesis, however, is the one reported by forestry authority head Erastus Gakono, who told The Standard newspaper that in all likelihood the fire started from the two well-known farms during preparations for the planting season.
"The farmers were burning vegetation on Saturday night. We believe they were unable to control the fire and it spread into the forest," Gakono said. "The firefighters sent to put out the fire were only able to do so near the road. The public tried to limit the fire inside the fields, but because of the wind, they couldn't contain it. At one point the local population fled."
This is not the first time the slopes of Menengai Crater have been enveloped in flames: in 2015, an inferno in the forest destroyed more than 300 acres of vegetation very close to the crater.
In 2017, a raging fire destroyed hundreds of native trees in more than 220 acres of the forest.
According to KFS documentation, Kenya has two fire seasons that coincide with the two dry and windy months preceding the country's rainy seasons, March-April and October-November. Again, the wind fueled the flames that took root in a beautiful plantation of eucalyptus and other indigenous trees.
Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda said that with this trend, the government may be forced to ban human activities near the forests. "In the last three weeks, we have experienced more than 23 forest fires caused by human activities," he told the Standard.
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