Devastating Fires Engulf Echuya Forest Reserve

Fires Engulf Echuya Forest Reserve. PHOTO/ENOCK NDYAMUHAKYI/The Black Examiner

A yet-to-be-identified group has ignited fires that have ravaged over 12 hills and a wetland within the Echuya forest reserve. This forest reserve, spanning more than 34 square kilometers and straddling the districts of Kisoro and Rubanda, serves as a haven for diverse plant and animal species. This unfortunate incident is a recurring occurrence, with parts of the forest typically catching fire at least once annually.

The hills that have been confirmed as affected stretch across Muko sub-county in Rubanda district and Kanaba in Kisoro district. Among them are Zugyi, Bukanama, Mbagayure, Gisha, Kuwabarozi, and Gihirondwa in Kanaba Sub County, as well as Kankirane, Murubindi, Katabukyi, and Kigarama in Muko Sub County. Additionally, a connecting wetland has also been impacted.

Authorities from conservation organizations, as well as officials from Muko and Kanaba, have reported that the fires began around 8:30 pm yesterday, set by unidentified individuals who purportedly sought to induce rain. Local residents have expressed their disapproval of the forest burning, especially considering ongoing efforts for Uganda Wildlife Authority to take over its management for the betterment of the community.


The National Forestry Authority has faced criticism for inadequate staffing to conduct regular patrols within and along the forest to deter human activities leading to such incidents. Irakiza Christopher, speaking on the matter, indicated that the forest often falls victim to accidental fires caused by remnants from honey harvesting. He also highlighted that some individuals set fire to the wetland to generate smoke capable of inducing rainfall.

Christopher lamented the National Forestry Authority’s apparent lack of sufficient commitment to safeguarding the forest. He further revealed that many community members hesitate to extinguish fires as they receive no rewards for their efforts.

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