Kenya — Environmentalists and nature conservationists in Taita Taveta County have expressed concern over a fire that broke out in the indigenous Ngangao forest.
The 139,000 acre forest is known worldwide for its flora and fauna. Environmentalists have expressed fears that the forest, which is home to endangered bird and plant species might lose its heritage.
According to a local environmentalist, Scaver Isuwirio, the fire might have caused irreparable damage. Sources said that the fire began on Monday and the cause is yet to be established. Kenya forest guards and local residents fought the fire that spread fast due to a lot of dry material on the ground from the ongoing drought.
According to Taita Taveta Zonal Forest Manager Allan Ongere, the area Chief helped to mobilise locals who came out in large numbers to put out the fire. He said that only five acres were destroyed and the fire is under control.
Ongere called on local residents to report any forest fires in the area during this time of drought when the fire would spread fast. The manager said that 80 per cent of the forest is made up of indigenous plant cover and was home to a variety of endemic plants and birds.
A recent research report released by Nature Kenya indicates that three unique bird species which are only found in the forest are gradually declining in number following wanton destruction of the forest habitat. The report cites Taita Apalis, Taita Olive Thrush and Taita White Eye as being on the verge of extinction.