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SOS Rhino : In the News : Ill-equipped Kenyan wildlife rangers struggle for five days to put out forest fire in game reserve
 

Ill-equipped Kenyan wildlife rangers struggle for five days to put out forest fire in game reserve

  Friday, February 28, 2003
By Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya ó Kenya Wildlife Service rangers struggled for five days to put out a forest fire started by arsonists in the Mount Kenya National Reserve because they lack resources and modern equipment, the agency said Thursday.

The blaze started Feb. 20 after unknown people set several small fires in the 2,800-square-kilometer (1,081-square-mile) reserve, home to numerous wildlife, including rhino, elephant, leopard, buffalo, gazelle, and monkeys, said Bongo Woodley, the reserve's senior warden.

No animals were killed in the fire, which burned three square kilometers (1.16 square miles) of underbrush, Woodley said.

It took the rangers until Tuesday to put the blaze out because they lack resources and are forced to use "stone age" equipment, Woodley said.

"KWS efforts to prevent or put out fires in our national forests have been hampered by the lack of equipment and finance," KWS said in a statement.

Woodley said bush fires were routine this time of year during the dry season. But increasing attention is being paid to the blazes because the country's new government is more concerned about environmental damage than its predecessor.

An opposition alliance won historic Dec. 27 elections that ended the 39-year rule of the Kenya African National Union party, promising to carry out widespread reforms in the East African nation. President Mwai Kibaki appointed veteran environmental activist Wangari Maathai as assistant minister for environment, natural resources, and wildlife, and the government has pledged to protect the country's forests and game parks.


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