Arson is suspected in one of the worst forest fires in recent times, now engulfing sections of Mt. Meru near the city of Arusha. While hundreds of fire fighters, army personnel, and volunteers are now battling the blaze, which is being fueled by strong winds and the dry conditions of undergrowth, as wildlife is fleeing the forest in droves.
Forest elephant, forest antelopes, mammals of all sorts, among them giraffe, buffalo, zebra, warthog, the black-and-white colobus monkey, and the blue monkey, and in particular birds, are presently being robbed of their habitat after members of a local community allegedly set fire over a dispute with the forest department.
Mt. Meru, or sections of it, are part of the Arusha National Park and have in the past provided opportunities for extended hikes up the mountain to the crater rim which provides spectacular sights, often in fact used to prepare for the more challenging Kilimanjaro climbs.
Mt. Meru is also a crucial water tower for Arusha and the neighboring areas where small and larger scale farms depend on streams and small rivers from the mountain to irrigate their crops.
At 4,562 meters in elevation, Mt. Meru is Tanzania’s second highest mountain, less than 50 miles from Mt. Kilimanjaro and the fifth highest peak in Africa.