From: Tom Odula, The Associated Press
Published March 24, 2009 02:45 PM

Kenya's famous wildlife flee fires

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's most famous animals are fleeing as thousands of firefighters battle flames in four national parks, but some animals may be trapped in the crater of a dormant volcano, a government official said Tuesday.

The fires have also destroyed more than US$800,000 worth of crops such as maize, Kenya's staple food, at a time when 3.2 million Kenyans are at risk of hunger and the government has appealed for international food aid.

The fires in central Kenya might have been started by arsonists, including squatters illegally occupying forest that the government has been trying to evict, said Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udoto. Ten people have been arrested.

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Udoto said some animals might be trapped between the steep sides of the dormant Longonot volcano, 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of the capital.

Aberdare, Mt. Elgon and Ruma parks were threatened by the fires, which started Saturday. Udoto said he did not know how many animals had been killed.

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