Mt Kenya is under threat, say elders
They say they have repeatedly warned of imminent disasters because of immense damage to forests and rivers
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.
‘IF YOU ATE GAME MEAT, YOU WERE PUNISHED BY BEING DENIED MILK UNTIL YOU MADE A SACRIFICE’