Five elephants have lost their lives in two different fire incidents started by British soldiers training in Kenya, the recent one being Wednesday in Nanyuki.
According to UK’s Defence Ministry, four elephants were burnt to death by the fire that is yet to be put out completely despite efforts by the British Army stationed in Nanyuki and the Kenya Army.
The Wednesday fire was sparked by a cooking stove that accidentally fell thereby starting the fire in the Lolldaiga area where the British conduct their training.
As of Friday, 8,000 acres of the dry shrubland had been burnt down. Four elephants were burnt down by the fire which spread to the unfenced area inhabited by wild animals mostly elephants.
All training operations in Lolldaiga have since been suspended and an investigation commenced to find out what really transpired.
Also read:18 Endangered Vulture Species Poisoned In Laikipia, Kenya As Human-Wildlife Conflict Resurfaces
Since Wednesday, the British Army in collaboration with the Kenya Army has been using helicopters to contain the spread of the fire.
More than 200 British troops have been deployed to put out the fire as army water bowsers – British and Kenyan – remain on standby.
The four elephants according to Daily Mail sought refuge in an area fenced with electricity and when the fire became fierce, they were trapped.
No British soldier was injured during the incident.
The UK Defence Ministry said that its priority at the moment is putting out the fire completely and taking care of the local community who may have been affected by the fire.
Reports are that army trucks are on standby ready to evacuate residents within the vicinity who may have been affected by the inferno.
“’All personnel have been accounted for and now our priority is to urgently assist the local community if they have been impacted. We are putting our resources into containing the fire and are working closely with the Kenyan authorities to manage the situation,” a statement from the ministry sent on Thursday evening stated.
“The exercise has been paused while conditions on the ground can be fully assessed,” the statement added. A week ago, an elephant calf was killed in yet another fire incident within the military drill area.
It is alleged that a flare was set off to disperse a herd of elephants that were approaching the Royal Military Police officers training ground but it ended up sparking a fire in the bush.
The calf was trapped and burnt to death. The Defence Chiefs say that they are probing both incidents.
There are about 1,000 UK soldiers training in Kenyan under the British Training Unit Kenya (Batuk) stationed in Nanyuki.
Their training zone extends to the shrubby land of Lolldaiga Hills and beyond to rugged terrain in Laikipia County where they conduct high-level military drills.
UK’s soldiers stationed with the 2nd battalion, the Mercian Regiment (2 Mercs) mostly train in Kenya. They have seen the establishment of 230 permanent UK military personnel stationed in Kenya.
The fires have not sat well with a section of soldiers, some of who took to social media castigating this act that has led to the death of five endangered species already.
“Two months in Kenya later and we’ve only got eight days left. Been good, caused a fire, killed an elephant and feel terrible about it but hey-ho, when in Rome,” a soldier posted on Snapchat according to Daily Mail.
The military personnel was referring to the first fire incident that ended up killing the calf.
The African Elephant species was recently named among those that are endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are now in the red list of endangered species.