On January 15th, forest fires were spotted on the slopes of Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in Africa. Inscribed onto the World Heritage list in 1997, Mount Kenya is a critical refuge for a host of iconic species, ranging from the African elephant, the leopard, and a variety of antelopes and rare birds. The mountain is also referred to as Kenya’s water tower, as it captures high altitude moisture and transmits it through river systems to communities below.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, the January fires started on the western side of the mountain and were initially suppressed, but following a prolonged hot dry spell, they re-appeared more recently in greater intensity. Though some progress has recently been made in dealing with these, there is concern that if an all-out effort to extinguish all remaining fires is not soon implemented, there is a risk that they will once again flare up. The Kenya meteorological office anticipates at least another 2 weeks of dry weather.
The RRF is supporting a request from the Kenya Wildlife Trust, a long standing organization that works closely with the Kenyan Wildlife Service. Funds will be used largely to cover costs of helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft water dispersal efforts.
The RRF is an emergency small grant programme that provides rapid support to allow immediate responses to major threats to wildlife conservation, primarily in UNESCO designated natural World Heritage sites as well as for sites on the Tentative list. The RRF is managed jointly by Fauna & Flora International and UNESCO World Heritage Centre and is financially supported by the United Nations Foundation, Halcyon Land & Sea and TripAdvisor. It aims to process emergency funding requests of up to US $30,000 in just eight working days.