Trend worsening for pollutant in 16 national parks

  Fire devastates section of gorilla park forest

20 July 2009

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Rwanda — A forest fire over the weekend destroyed nearly 10 hectares of prime forest inside the famed Parc de Volcanoes, home to the mountain gorillas found along the border triangle of Rwanda, Uganda, and the DR Congo.

Local authorities are said to have successfully mobilized most of the local residents, many of whom are direct beneficiaries of tourism to the area, who set out to combat the fire on the ground.

This assisted the efforts by the fire brigade and security services greatly and underscored the conservation mindset of communities living near the park.

At one point, the fire threatened to cross over to the Ugandan side of the border transcending national park but was eventually contained in Rwanda but not the Ugandan side of the border.

According to reports from the ground, no gorillas were affected directly by the fire although other wildlife and birdlife has been displaced from the affected area, while a number of beehives were also said to have been destroyed.

This correspondent only recently went gorilla trekking in the very area of Rwanda now affected.

Subsequent reports in the Ugandan media painted a rather grimmer picture about the extent of the fire inside the Ugandan Mgahinga National Park, where the initial response, after the alarm was raised on the Rwandan side, was not as determined, allowing the fire to spread more rapidly. Apparently Rwandan helicopters, used initially to douse the flames of the original fire from the air, were also assisting on the Ugandan side of the border.

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