Fires have been raging in the Chyulu National Park over the past one month, a Swara team that visited the area this week found.

Witnesses, including rangers on patrol, told us this is not a new problem. It has been happening for years as evidenced by the swaths of bare hillsides. Repeated fires have left only grass and isolated, stunted trees, on the once forested slopes.

A ranger we spoke to said the fires are lit by members of local communities, many of them herders, who take their livestock into the park in search of pasture. They burn the fields so that fresh, tender grass can regrow to nourish their cattle, goats and sheep.

Harvesters of miraa (khat), a mildly narcotic herb chewed by some people, are also to blame. The herb grows naturally in the Chyulu Hills. Burning the plant forces it to renegerate more of the desired leaves and buds. The fires spread and destroy huge swaths of the forest.

A reference to the Chyulu National Park – which is adjacent to the expansive Tsavo West National Park -- on the website of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says: “Verdant rolling hills of endless green, great blue skies and spectacular landscape views are what the Chyulu Hills provide to nature lovers.” But for how much longer at the current rate of destruction?
We will let the photos tell the story!

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