Mt Kenya is un­der threat, say el­ders

They say they have re­peat­edly warned of im­mi­nent dis­as­ters be­cause of im­mense dam­age to forests and rivers

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Eastern - GIL­BERT KOECH @KoechJu­nior_1

Mount Kenya is un­der “grave threat” from log­ging, poach­ing and wil­ful ig­no­rance by the younger gen­er­a­tion, el­ders have said. They said the threats Kenya’s iconic peak faces could soon lead to a na­tional catas­tro­phe.

“Peo­ple have been told, but they don’t lis­ten. They do not ac­cept knowl­edge given by their par­ents,” Anna Wa­mugo, a 77-year-old farmer near Embu, said. She is among el­ders who will meet with the UN Moun­tain Part­ner­ship Am­bas­sador, His Ho­li­ness The Drikung Lhundup, to­day.

Lhundup jet­ted into the coun­try on Sun­day and will visit un­til next Tues- day. He is a Ti­betan Bud­dhist monk and the 37th throne holder of the Drikung Kagyu lin­eage of Ti­betan Bud­dhism. Lhundup will be a guest of the Mount Kenya Trust.

Wa­mugo said peo­ple do what they want. “If some­one wants to cut a tree, they just go and cut it with­out car­ing what ef­fect that will have,” she said.

Un­planned de­vel­op­ment, il­le­gal log­ging, poach­ing and bhang cul­ti­va­tion are sweep­ing the slopes of the moun­tain, whose height is 5,199m. Its frag­ile ecosys­tem risks col­lapse be­cause of these ac­tiv­i­ties. Mt Kenya pro­vides al­most all of Nairobi’s wa­ter and half of Kenya’s elec­tric­ity.

El­ders liv­ing near the moun­tain say they have re­peat­edly warned of im­pend­ing dis­as­ters be­cause of im­mense dam­age to forests and rivers, mostly through de­for­esta­tion. The moun­tain is tra­di­tion­ally treated as a god who pro­vides ben­e­fits in re­turn for re­spect. Bedan Mbogo, 80, said he was banned fromMt Kenya as a child. He said he was told wildlife there be­longed to Mu­rungu, the moun­tain god.

“If you ate game meat, you were pun­ished by be­ing de­nied milk un­til you made a sac­ri­fice,” he said. “Young peo­ple those days were care­ful. Now peo­ple just take what they want. Mu­rungu is very an­noyed, and that is why there is evil in our coun­try.”

Lhundup is sched­uled to visit com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing on the moun­tain, see the Trust’s work and meet its staff and se­nior of­fi­cials from the Kenya Wildlife Ser­vice and Kenya For­est Ser­vice. Trust field co­or­di­na­tor Humphrey Munene said trees at­tract rain­fall.


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