World’s tallest free-standing mountain Mount Kilimanjaro is on fire

It’s been more than five days since a fire broke out in a conservation area on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak.

Tanzania’s minister of natural resources and tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla, said Wednesday that the fire is threatening the alpine ecological zone, which is inhabited by various creatures including birds, snakes, and lizards.

Kigwangalla said dry conditions, strong winds, and the location of the fire are hampering efforts to bring it under control.

Forest fires have broken out on and near the mountain before, but as the blaze enters its third day local authorities say it is set to be one of the biggest ever seen.

Kilimanjaro is home to a number of unique plant and animal species and hosts thousands of tourists every year.

The fire started on Sunday afternoon in the Whona area, a tourist stopover for hikers climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and using the Mandara and Horombo routes. 

The cause of the fire is still unknown, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said.