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Fire in Kenya threatens some of the world’s most beloved parks

Started by arsonists, fires have swept through Kenya’s Great Rift valley, home to some of the world’s most treasured parks and millions of Kenyans already suffering from long-term drought.

According to the BBC, Kenya has mobilized 3,500 security personnel, including the national youth service, police, and forestry workers, to fight the fires. So far the government has announced that 11,370 acres of bush and forests have gone up in flames.

The fires have already had negative impacts on parks such as Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, and even Serengetti National Park in Tanzania, expanding fears that the fires will greatly affect wildlife and endangered species. BBC reports that several marshbuck, or sitatunga antelope, have died due to the disaster.

Rangers have told media outlets that larger animals, like zebras, elephants, gazelles, giraffes, and buffaloes have been seen to outrun the fires, though they now face starvation. Furthermore, rangers fear that smaller species like rabbits, mongoose, baboons, and snakes will not be able to outrun the flames.

Recent reports from Reuters have focused on animals supposedly trapped in an extinct volcano crater by the fire on Mount Longmont.

The fire isn’t just affecting Kenyan wildlife: it has destroyed an estimated $800,000 US of crops like maize at a time when ten million Kenyan are at risk of hunger due to a prolonged drought.

Ten people have been arrested in connection with the arson. Though nothing is confirmed, it is thought that the fire may have been started by settlers upset with being removed from the Mau forest by the Kenyan government.

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