UN secretary general flies over the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro


DAR ES SALAAM- Tanzania (eTN) – United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon flew over the dwindling ice covered summit of Mount Kilimanjaro last Friday shortly before ending his three-day official visit to Tanzania.

His mission to fly over the mountain’s ice-cap was to assess and witness the effects of global warming and climate change on the mountain, famous for its whitish peak and as the highest point in the African continent.

Mr. Ban arrived in Tanzania last Thursday for discussion with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete on regional crises facing the African continent and the UN’s peacekeeping activities in the continent.

During his public interactions, Mr. Ban said he would fly over the mountain to witness the dwindling ice-cover of the mountain which for years remained a tourist attraction while local people on the mountain slopes worshipped the peak as a “seat of their God.”

The UN secretary general earlier expressed his organization’s deep concern on its roles to play in creating alternative measures that would help to reduce impacts of global warming.

Earlier, the UN resident coordinator in Tanzania, Mr. Oscar Fernandez Taranco, said the UN secretary general was to fly over Mount Kilimanjaro to assess, witness and get the first-hand view of the effects of global warming on the receding ice cap that covers the mountain.

“To address the impacts of climate change while in Tanzania, the UN Secretary General will draw attention to a number of regional and national issues with one of his main focus areas being the effects of climate change,” Mr. Taranco said.

The disappearance of glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro is as well, connected with the increase of frequency and intensity of fires on the mountain slopes.

In 2002, a study led by Ohio State University ice core pale climatologist Lonnie Thomson predicted that ice on top of Africa’s tallest peak would be gone between 2015 and 2020 or few years later.

However, a team of Austrian scientists from University of Innsbruck predicted in 2007 that the plateau ice cap will be gone by 2040, but some ice on the slope will remain longer due to local weather conditions.

The loss of foliage causes less moisture to be pumped into the atmosphere, leading to reduced cloud cover and precipitation and increased solar radiation and glacial evaporation, reports show. In this complex interplay of nature and human actions, some ecological zones are expanding and others are shrinking.

Standing freely and majestically with its snow gleaming in the sun, Mount Kilimanjaro is in great danger to lose its eye-catching glaciers. The mountain is located some 330 kilometers and three degrees (3 degrees) south of Equator.

The mountain is an awesome and magnificent peak in Africa and one of the leading single free standing mountains in the world. It composed of three independent peaks–Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira covering a total area of 4,000 kilometers.

The snow-capped Kibo with permanent glaciers covering its entire peak is the highest at 5,895 meters high and is the most visited site, the most explored and known by many visitors.

It attracts between 25,000 and 40,000 foreign and local tourists per year and sustains livelihood activities to about four million people in both Tanzania and Kenya through agricultural, tourism and other business undertakings.