June 25th 2017

Society / Environment

Raging fire guts Ruma National Park in Homa Bay

Senior Warden Felix Mwangangi confirmed the destruction of another 20 hectares of the park vegetation thereby threatening rare species like roan antelope as well as rhinos, buffaloes and waterbucks among other animals.

By Samuel OwidaTuesday, 07 Feb 2017 14:20 EAT

A number of wildlife animals have suffered in the Ruma National Park following the second fire inferno that the gutted a bigger chunk of the park this week. Rhinos, buffalos, waterbucks and antelopes among others were on the receiving end where their habitat got destroyed with fire whose cause has not been established.

The fire impact has a far reaching effect in the ecology and the local ecosystem coming barely after another one wreaked havoc on 30 hectares of the park vegetation. The inferno started in God Jope part of Mbita Sub County before spreading to various parts of the park’s borders on Monday which are shared with Ndhiwa and Suba sub counties.

Monday's heavy downpour which saved the overwhelmed Kenya Wildlife Service rangers who had struggled to put it off for more than twenty four hours. Senior Warden Felix Mwangangi confirmed the destruction of another 20 hectares of the park vegetation thereby threatening rare species like roan antelope as well as rhinos, buffaloes and waterbucks among other animals.

Mr Mwangangi stated that the fire scattered the animals to various parts of the park and even outside where possible to escape the raging fire which was fuelled by the current dry spell which released a huge dark billow of smoke engulfing the entire park. “The animals had to scamper for safety, but from our initial assessment a number reptiles and swarms of insects became casualties,” he said.

Two Kenya Wild life Service rangers, who became unconscious, were rushed to Lambwe Health centre for treatment in Mbita Sub County after inhaling smoke while fighting the fire. They were treated and discharged. The rangers lost their hats, a radio, solar panel and a chloride battery in the fire.

Homa Bay County Police Commander John Omusanga said their preliminary investigations revealed that the fire was lit by somebody from outside the park. “We have found out that an unknown person from outside the park was responsible for lighting the fire. Further investigations are underway to enable us get more information about the incident,” said Mr Omusanga.

But according to Mr Mwangangi, most of the fire incidents in the park have been caused by farmers who clear their plantations through burning.

The writer is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Homa Bay County





Stay Connected