Aberdare Forest is on fire, threatening hundreds of hectares on one of Kenya’s most important water tower.
The fire comes at a time when the country is facing drought and after a similar fire destroyed more than 300 hectares of Mt Kenya Forest.
Nyeri eco-system conservationist Muchiri Mathinji was quoted on Sunday saying that the Kenya Forest Service rangers and the community at Bellevue in the county were on the ground battling the fire.
The fire is thought to have started on Saturday and was first spotted by an aerial team.
“we established that the fire had consumed the moorlands, heaths and shrubs and a little of the bamboo area,” said Mathinji.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
On the ground is The Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service and Community Forest Association.
Also, about 100 people have been mobilised to help put out the fire which might cause immense damage to the forest.
Last year, 7, 000 hectares of forest was consumed by ranging fire in both the Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests between January and March.
The two forests are among the major water towers in the country.
It is said 99 per cent of forest fires are started by illegal activities in the forest by honey gatherers, residents fetching firewood and herders grazing their animals.
Two forest blocs have been given special attention and surveillance by the Kenya Forest Service – Nanyuki, Gathiuru, Naromoru, Kabaru in the Mt Kenya bloc and South Laikipia and Bellevue in the Aberdare bloc.
The KFS has also warned against lighting fires near or inside the forest as this could contribute to wild fires.
“We urge people to be very cautious. Any form of burning should be authorised first because the fire danger rating is very high. But we are prepared to battle any form of fire,” said Mr Mathinji.
The public has also been urged to remain vigilant and report any forest fire threats and outbreaks to the KFS offices by dialling the hotline number 020 250 2508.