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Mount Kilimanjaro is on fire! And no one knows exactly why…6 min read

October 21, 2020 4 min read

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Mount Kilimanjaro is on fire! And no one knows exactly why…6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Standing at a height of 5,895 metres above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest single free-standing mountain in the world, was on fire last week. Massive flames raged halfway up the side of the dormant volcano in Tanzania, Africa. Firefighters, members of Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa) and local volunteers have made huge efforts to control the fires.

Fires rage up the side of Mount Kilimanjaro. Photo: Tanapa

While fires are not uncommon to Kilimanjaro, locals there say this is one of the biggest they have ever seen. Home to many unique plant and animal species, Kilimanjaro brings several tourists every year from across the globe to witness its glory. The mountain’s snow-capped peaks and the surrounding national park were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

What’s causing the fires?

While the fires are said to be under control now, experts have not been able to confirm their exact cause. Usually, they say the fires are a result of lightening striking or tourist campfires going out of control. However, due to the pandemic, tourists have not been coming to Kilimanjaro, so the latter may not be a possibility.

Researchers say fires like this one could become more frequent in the coming years, which will have a negative impact on the rice flora (vegetation) and fauna (animal life) in the area.

In the past few years, the mountain has faced some other troubles too, such as water and air pollution, intruders occupying the edges of national park, illegal logging and poaching. Another issue is that of increasing number of tourists coming to the famous spot.

What flora and fauna live on the mountain?

Mount Kilimanjaro is home to many plants and animals, some being rare and endangered too. On tropical mountains such as this one, experts say that the higher you climb, the more endangered species you’ll find! They also say that because Kilimanjaro is very young mountain (three million years, but in mountain years this is young! The oldest mountain range in the world is the Barberton Greenstone Belt and is found in South Africa), so not too many species there are endemic. The fires, therefore, won’t have that much of an impact on Kilimanjaro’s biodiversity.

Here some of the famous species found on Mount Kilimanjaro

The Blue Monkey isn’t actually blue!

The Blue Monkey, also known as the Diademed Monkey

White-necked Raven

The White Necked Raven is aptly named for the prominent white band on the back of its neck.

Colobus Monkey

Colobus Monkey – Colobus comes from the Greek word ‘kolobos’, meaning mutilated.

Bush Babies are nocturnal creatures

Bush babies, also known as Galagos, nagapies, ‘little night monkeys’

Aardvark’s feast on ants

Aardvark, sometimes known as the African Ant Bear

Civets prefer being on their own rather than with other civets

Civet, a mostly nocturnal and solitary animal

Duiker’s are very common in Tanzania

Abbott’s Duiker, one of the most widespread of all forest deer

Green Mambas are highly poisonous

The Green Mamba is a venomous, arboreal (lives on trees) snake

Hartlaub’s Turaco is known for its black cap-like crest

Hartlaub’s Turaco, named after German physician Gustav Hartlaub.

The Schalow’s Turaco has unique colouration around the eyes

Schalow’s Turaco, named after a German banker Hermann Schalow.

The feather’s on the face of the Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill are what give it its name

The Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill has a large, cream-colored casque on the beak.

Photos: Wikipedia, Britannica