• Gorillas, residents safe
BURERA – The wildfires which broke out in Volcanoes National Park over the weekend have spread into the Virunga Massif, reaching the Ugandan side, of Mugahinga national Park.
An estimated 100 hectares have so far been gutted on the foot hills of Muhabura Mountain on the Ugandan side.
Helicopters from the Rwanda Air Force were mobilised to help put out the fires both in Rwanda and the Ugandan side of the border.
The helicopters used aerial water pumping system to put down the raging fires.
According to the district mayor, Samuel Sembagari, wildfire last broke out in this park in 1978.
He said that owing to the nature of the vegetation, there was no possibility of fire spreading to the habitable area, calling upon the area residents to remain calm as they won’t be affected.
The chief park warden, Prosper Uwingeri, said that the habituated groups of Mountain Gorillas living in the Volcanoes national park were safe.
“We are doing every thing possible to stop the fires from spreading to the western side of Mountain Muhabura where gorillas and most of the other animals live,’’ Uwingeri told The New Times yesterday.
The inferno which started in Cyanika sector, Nyagahinga cell is suspected to have been caused by honey harvesters who have a bee farm close to the park wall.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), along with local authorities have joined the efforts to fight off the speeding fire which is moved by heavy winds heading deep into the forests.
Authorities mobilized residents, area Army contingents, members of Itorero R’yigihugu (health workers attending a civic education camp in Nkumba) to use anything available including domestic equipment to try to control the speeding wild fire.
The park which is home to the endangered mountain gorillas is covered with bamboo forests, and thick wild trees.