A raging fire has destroyed more than 70 hectares (approximately 173 acres) of bamboo in the Aberdare Forest even as Kenya Wildlife Service battles to put it out.
According to KWS Mt Kenya boss Mr Bajila Kofa, the flames are suspected to have been started by illegal honey harvesters or poachers on Sunday.
“The fire started at around 6pm on Sunday, it was a fierce fire. We sent 45 KWS officers to battle it that night but the number was increased Monday morning,” said Mr Kofa.
He said the fire is at Kinangop Peak, a short distance from Elephant Peak, the highest point of Aberdare Forest where a FlySax plane crashed in June last year.
Mr Kofa says a multiagency team is working to contain the fire within a 500-square metre stretch.
The KWS boss said officers have been deployed to pursue suspected poachers who could have started the inferno.
“We have identified some tracks left behind by strangers in the forest who we suspect to be rhino poachers. We are pursuing the strangers to establish their motive, they might have started the fire to make it easy for their poaching mission,” said Mr Kofa.
“The rhino poachers also have a habit of lighting the fire so that they can kill the animals as we concentrate on firefighting, but they will not succeed,” he added.
Mr Kofa said forest fires are common during the honey harvesting season.
“The fire season is here with us again, its honey harvesting season. We expect fires in the Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests but we have activated our response team,” he said.