Tanzania — TANZANIA National Parks Authority (TANAPA) thanked various stakeholders who extended a helping hand in ending a four-day bushfire which was consuming Mount Kilimanjaros forest.
A statement issued by the TANAPA public relations department noted that the bushfire, that started on Sunday, had been put out in collaboration with villagers and the regional government. The statement also noted that Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Leonidas Gama, visited the burned area and ordered for the search and arrest of the culprits behind the crime.
On Wednesday Mr Gama visited Horombo area located 3,700metres above the sea level and ordered leaders of Rombo and Moshi districts to identify the culprits in collaboration with TANAPA, the statement read in part.
The statement further said that the two districts authorities had also been ordered to collaborate with TANAPA in laying down strategies for prevention of such incidents in future. The statement noted that tourism activities had returned to normal following the successful control of the fire, adding that tourist routes were, however, not affected. Large parts of the Mount Kilimanjaro forest cover were consumed by flames since Sunday afternoon for four consecutive days.
TANAPA, which manages Kilimanjaro National Park within which the mountain is located, stated that the roaring fires were on the northern slopes of Africas highest mountain, which are in Rombo District. The affected areas include sections of Amboni, Ushiri, Keryo, Kimori and Shimbi, said TANAPA public relations manager, Mr Paschal Shelutete, in the official press release.
Early reports indicated that the fire might have been caused by illegal honey harvesters who normally make bonfires with the aim of driving away bees from their hives or tree holes so they can then scoop honeycombs from them.
The total burnt area is estimated at around 40 hectares. The culprits are suspected to have trespassed into the conservation area through illegal routes in the Amboni section of the mountains slopes and soon as they realised that the fire was becoming uncontrollable, they took to their heels.
TANAPA explained that villagers from Mshiri, Lyasongoro, Amboni, Ushiri and Ikuwini had been contacted and embarked on efforts to combat the raging fire and managed to stop it from spreading further.
In addition to the villagers, squads of anti-riot police from the Field Force Unit (FFU) in Kilimanjaro region had also joined the exercise to put off the raging flames. Attracting over 70,000 foreign tourists every year and generating revenue amounting to more than 80million US dollars, Mount Kilimanjaro is Tanzanias most valued natural feature.