Ruwenzori glaciers could be gone in 30 years, says WWF

Posted by Laura Grant on March 23, 2008
Posted in Green News

Ruwenzori mountains ©WWFAfrica is at risk of losing the glaciers that are a permanent source of water for the Nile, the WWF reports. The glaciers on the Ruwenzori Mountains have shrunk by 50 percent in the past 50 years and 75 percent in the past century, a WWF team has found. This is very bad news for the more than 2-million people who live in the area whose water supply depends on the glaciers.

The glaciers also play a vital role in providing water for the forests of the Virunga National Park – the home of rare mountain gorillas.

The Ruwenzoris straddle Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are one of only three mountains in Africa that have permanent snow – the other two are Mounts Kilimanjaro and Kenya.

“The impact of melting of glaciers was felt by the team when it discovered that the route leading from the DRC to Uganda used a glacier that no longer exists, forcing the team to open a new route” says Marc Languy, head of WWF’s Programme in the Great Lakes region.

“However, the impact is more severe on wildlife and the vegetation that can not adapt to the new condition fast enough. While it was comforting to find many signs of leopards, chimpanzees and other wildlife, one wonders how they will survive if changes continue at the present rate”.

The WWF estimates that the glaciers could completely disappear in the next 30 years.

Photograph: Glaciers on the Ruwenzori Mountains in 1952, top, and at the same spot in 2008, below.

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