KWS cautions Kenyans living near national parks against setting fires ahead of ‘fire season’

Tsavo East burning

The Kenya Wildlife Service has cautioned Kenyans living near parks and national reserves against setting fires nearby. This is because such fires have the potential to spread into the parks and lead to loss of wildlife and vegetation.

“Fires that occurred in the Tsavo and Chyulu National Park during July 2020 originated  from the areas surrounding the parks,” KWS said through a statement on Thursday.

“While KWS has put in place measures to ensure appropriate preparedness for the upcoming fire season, the public and especially those living in close proximity to national parks and reserves are advised to avoid setting fires close to the boundaries as these fires have the potential to spread to the parks and reserves,” part of the statement reads.

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Additionally, setting fires in a wildlife protected area is an offence that is punishable by law.

The perpetrator is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than two hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment of not less than two years or to both.

The most recent fire incident occurred in Tsavo National Park on July 22. The fire started at Lualenyi ranch which is near Tsavo West National Park.

A fire destroys vegetation at Aberdare National Park on March 2, 2019/ NATION

Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS) rangers tried to contain the fire but strong winds fanned the flames which quickly spread to dry vegetation.

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“We managed to prevent the fire from spreading into Mwaktau village. However, the fire is still in the park,” a local resident said.

Tsavo has been affected by three incidents of fires in the last three months alone. In May fire destroyed more than 4, 000 acres of vegetation in Tsavo East. In June another fire incident led to the burning of over 180 acres in Tsavo.

Tsavo is home to a wide variety of wild animals, including the big five.

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