On Sunday afternoon, 11th October, a fire broke out on Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, destroying 28 acres of vegetation. Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, standing at 19,443 feet tall. It is also the highest single standing mountain in the world. Mt Kilimanjaro is a tourist attraction for Tanzania and Kenya. Also, it is home to different species of animals and plants. Tourists from all over the world visit it every year to climb and hike.
The cause of the inferno remains unknown. However, sources believe it started as a result of an open fire. The fire is said to be accidentally caused by a worker who was warming food for the tourists. The fire started at the Whona area, a center where tourists from Horombo and Mandara routes take a rest. Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) officials said the fire spread rapidly due to strong winds and dry weather. Fire spreads out quickly in dry seasons, making it difficult to contain it. As a result, the fire has burnt out a high percentage of the natural vegetation on the mountain.
Containment measures to save Mount Kilimanjaro
A fire brigade alongside college students helped to curb the spread of the fire. Two hundred and sixty-four students from Mweka Wildlife College delivered foodstuff and water to the fire brigade. Residents and volunteers have also been giving a helping hand to contain the fast-spreading fires.
Counting the cost
Mandara and Horombo are some of the routes climbers use to go up the mountain. Marangu route was also affected by the fire. Mt Kilimanjaro is home to many animals, plants, and visitors. Many of the fauna and flora have burnt down, bringing great damage to the ecosystem. Perhaps, some species of flora and fauna will be struggling with extinction.
Around 26-28 km area has been affected, with several acres of vegetation destroyed. So far, there are no reports of injuries or casualties. The fire has destroyed two toilets, 12 huts, and two solar systems belonging to the tourists who camped at Horombo. Spokesperson of TANAPA, Pascal Shelutete said the area still on fire was Kifunika hill with containment measures still underway. TANAPA says the fire is under control.
Dr. Hamisi Kigwangala, the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, paid a visit to the area. He is advocating for the purchase and deployment of helicopters to ascertain the damages in areas like Marangu routes. The aircraft will also increase efficiency towards minimizing the spread. Press release on 16th October says fire extinguishing is still underway and the State Aviation has donated a helicopter. The helicopter will fly over Mount Kilimanjaro to monitor areas in the line of the fire. Consequently, they will help stop the fire from further spread.
Measures to avoid future occurrence
Precautionary measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the mountain. Tourism activities are still on-going, and all visitors can hike and climb the hill. According to Dr. Kigwagangala, ”Those wishing to climb the mountain are still welcomed.” The permanent secretary minister for Natural Resources and Tourism also visited the place on Tuesday.
He thanked volunteers and the residents who showed up for being at the forefront. They kept the fire under control and contained most of it. The parts of the mountain that have been affected the most Kifunika hill and some parts of Rombo district. At the time of this report, flames were still visible from Moshi town. It is at times like this that Africans show their spirit of oneness and unity. Have you been to Mount Kilimanjaro before? What was your experience like? Share your experience with us in the comment box below.