FIRES IN TSAVO CAUSED BY ARSONISTS

Principal Secretary for Wildlife and Tourism Fred Sigor has hinted that the fire that razed the 657 square kilometres of Tsavo National Park in the past three months was caused by arsonists.

Sigor suspects that local herders, honey gatherers, charcoal burners and local farmers are to blame for the fires that have destroyed some part of 22,000 square kilometres of the Tsavo ecosystem.

Sigor said the fire incident could escalate to the persistent human-wildlife conflict as animals have migrated from their habitat ecosystem to human settlements.The Ps also said the fires have affected biodiversity conservation, tourism activities and revenue collection.

The Ps assured the government commitment in preventing the disaster in future and also equipping the KWS with sophisticated fire fighting equipment. Sigor said the State has a proposal of Sh20 million to prevent the fires, but much of the assistance will be sourced from development partners.

The PS made the remarks at the Mwatate CDF hall when he addressed wildlife conservation stakeholders in Taita-Taveta County yesterday.  The PS was accompanied by KWS Director General John Weweru, Coast Regional Coordinator John Elungata, Regional Police Commander Gabriel Musau and Taita-Taveta County Commissioner Rodah Onyancha, among other officials.

Elungata promised he would engage detectives from the CID to investigate the fire outbreaks in the region, warning that anyone found to have caused the fires would face the full force of the law.

He also instructed chiefs and their assistants to help the government in identifying illegal herders grazing in the park for action. The administrator said the fire would result in human wildlife conflict where the affected animals will be forced to look for food and shelter in the neighboring farm lands.

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