World Heritage Site: Mount Kenya

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Meru, Embu and Tharaka-Nithi counties face the most eye catching feature in the region, Mount Kenya, the first of Kenya’s monuments to be registered as a World Heritage Site. The incredible mountain is like a magician; diverts your vision to seeing what it wants you to see.

  • Every day of the year, the sun rises and sets at the same time
  • On a clear sunny day, the snow on the glaciers shines very brightly
  • The trio of summits tower above the snow and clouds.

The beauty and power thus projected caused the tribes to believe that their god dwelt on Mount Kenya. It is no wonder that in pre-colonial times, the huts were built facing the sacred mountain. The Embu, Mbeere and Meru people all prayed to the god of this majestic mountain.

Threats Facing Mount Kenya

The inscription of Mount Kenya on the World Heritage List in 1997 meant that there was a mandate to preserve this gift from the past to future generations.

The truth is that there is a domino effect stemming from the receding 11 glaciers on Mount Kenya due to less snow falling. Thus the remarkable ecological diversity, such as the endemic giant plant species, is affected negatively.

giant species

Another threat facing Mount Kenya is the constant deforestation on the lower slopes. Whether it be for clearing land for agriculture or for lumber, the loss of indigenous trees has been the cause of disruption in environmental processes such as rainfall patterns.

There was once plenty of wildlife as evidenced by naming cultures of the Aembu and Mbeere. The names of their children came from animals such as Kivuti (ostrich), Ngoroi (columbus monkey), Njogu (elephant) or Munyi (rhinoceros). As infant mortality rate was high, parents wished to see their babies grow to maturity just as the young ones of the wild animals did. Poaching however has diminished the population of these animals to the extent they face extinction.

Protecting Kenya’s World Heritage Site

World Heritage Convention seeks to conserve the cultural and natural heritages that we live with today. Mount Kenya is such a World Heritage Site, a legacy that is an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration not only to the tribes that have lived around it for centuries but also for the 30,000 tourists that trek up every year.

Being a World Heritage Site, Mount Kenya gets technical assistance and professional training from UNESCO. This assistance is geared towards modifying the effects of the receding glaciers. Unfortunately, researchers have projected the disappearance of ice by 2050. This however would change if current patterns in global warming are reversed to cooler temperatures and more precipitation.

mt. kenya

Mount Kenya World Heritage Site also incorporates the lower slopes through Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve (LWC-NNFR). The area transitions from dense forests of the mountain to the semi-arid grasslands of the savannah. In this corridor, the habitat of the extensive biodiversity that would have been destroyed by deforestation is thus preserved. Take a canopy walk among the 200 year old trees which support an immense birdlife. Enjoy a nature walk in the Ngare Ndare forest to admire the azure pools under the waterfalls.

elephant Mt. Kenya

On the 18th of April, to commemorate the International Day for Monuments and Sites, keep in mind this Indian American Proverb , “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children“.

Be sure to explore the scenic routes of Sirmon and Chogoria so as to experience the wildlife, see the lakes and marvel at the endemic giant species.

Kenya’s World Heritage Sites

  1. Lake Turkana National Parks
  2. Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley
  3. Lamu Old Town
  4. Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests
  5. Fort Jesus, Mombasa

Kenya features 3 natural and 3 cultural in the UNESCO list. In order to learn more about the above World Heritage Sites, visit Jumia Travel .


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