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Kilimanjaro Fire Report: Outbreaks Destroy over 34 Square Kilometres of Vegetation

Mount Kilimanjaro is now safe from fire outbreaks as the last of the flames have been put off and precautions against future incidents taken

More than 34.2 Square Kilometres of Vegetation on Kilimanjaro have been destroyed by fire following the recent outbreaks that razed the mountain for four consecutive weeks.

However, according to the Commissioner of Conservation for the Tanzania National Parks, William Mwakilema, the fire outbreaks have been contained and Mountain safe.

The part of the Mountain which has been razed by fires is just 1.9 percent of the total land area covered by Kilimanjaro, whose entire surface encompasses 1712 Square Kilometres.

Commissioner Mwakilema was presenting a Summary Report on the Fire incidences that have been causing alarm at the Africa’s Highest Peak.

But in addition to that, TANAPA is already taking more precautions against future occurrences.

“Fire problems on Kilimanjaro had already been dealt with in the past that is why all areas that used to experience fire outbreaks no longer suffer such occurrences,” explains Mwakilema.

Commissioner Mwakilema added that the fire which started on 21 October 2022, occurred in the Southern West Zone which never used to experience outbreaks in the past.

There have been series of fire episodes on the mountain, with the second case occurring on 20 October 2022, in Udetu and Samanga parts, on the Rombo escarpments.

On October 29, another fire erupted near River Karanga, Umbwe and Baranko areas, while on October 30 it spread to Mandara, Kasoko near the Crater on the Marangu route sections.

While vegetation was destroyed some animal species including snakes, insects, Dik-Diks and other slow moving earth creatures also suffered from the outbreaks according to Mwakilema.

However, tourists and tourism business continued without problems.

“It was during the low season, with relatively fewer tourists, however all the routes leading to and from the mountain had rangers and other TANAPA officials to ensure safety for climbers,” he stated.

So, what were the causes behind fire accidents?

The report indicates that they were cause by human activities as the outbreaks occurred mostly around the spots used as resting points by climbers and porters.

This means that anything could have happened within the perimeters to cause the flames.

But drought also contributed to the incidences because dried twigs including the highly inflammable Erica, easily caught flames being blown by winds.

The Tanzania Peoples’ Defence Forces played major role in combating the fires having deployed more than 800 soldiers, two helicopters and vehicles for the operation.

The Mweka College of Wildlife Management, the Kilimanjaro Police, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Guides and Porters Associations, as well as tour companies such as Zara Adventure and Mauly also contributed greatly.

Tour Companies and Organizations that played important role in quelling the fire

ZARA Adventures, Tanzania Porters Organization, AFRICAN ENVIRONMENT, ALTEZA, KEYS, MKPS, MAULI TOUR, EXUBERANT, KILELE FOOTPRINT, AFROMAX TOUR, NATURE DISCOVERY, MONKEY ADVENTURE, DARE TO TRAVEL, SHAH TOURS, ORIGIN TRAIL.

Others are the Moshi Sigh Community, Pangani River Basin, Peaceland foundation and China Tanzania Partners.

The destroyed vegetation

Plants that were razed down by the fires on the mountain include Erica sp., Protea sp., Kniphonia thomsonii, Herichrysum sp, grasses, Bracken ferns (Aquillinum pteridium), Myrica salicifolia, Lobelia deckenii, mountain gladiolus and Senecio kilimanjarica

Kilimanjaro Fire Report

Related: Army steps into Operations against Kilimanjaro Fires

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