DAR ES SALAAM, Jan. 11 (Xinhuanet) — Frequent forest fires and rampant illegal logging have combined to encroach upon the ecosystem of Mount Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa.
The warning was sounded through a survey jointly conducted by the Tanzanian government and a United Nations institute.
Aerial surveillances have found that human activities have disturbed the entire forest belt around the mountain area and thatthe disturbance is not compatible with nature conservation efforts,concluded the survey that drew participation from the community management of protected areas conservation project under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Local newspaper The Guardian on Tuesday quoted Kilimanjaro National Park ecologist James Wakibara as saying that honey collecting and poaching are the major causes of forest fires and that 14 forest fires occurred within a six-month period.
A single fire on the mountain is capable of destroying hundredsof hectares of woods and the forest fire phenomenon on the forest belt on Mount Kilimanjaro has thus become a matter of grave concern, said the ecologist.
Mount Kilimanjaro has also been suffering from deforestation through illegal logging. No pockets of undisturbed forests were spotted by the aerial survey below the 1,800-meter line on the southern slope of the mountain.
Pristine Montana forests remain only above the 2,400-meter lineon the same slope.
On the western and northern slopes, woods have been logged evenabove the 2,700-meter line.
Lying about 330 km south of the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro boasts of an eco-diversity of 405 species of birds and over 1,800 plants including such rare woods as ebony, sandal and rosewood. The mountain is best known for its perennially-ice capped Kibo peak at 5,895 meters above sea level.
The icecap has been thawing due to the global climate change and ruinous human activities on the mountain slopes. Scientists have therefore warned that if the current recession of the icecap continues at the present rate, the glacier on the mountain is likely to vanish within the next 15 years.