The remaining ice cap on Mountain Rwenzori covering the second highest peak in Africa, Margherita, has split creating a crevasse of 6 meters, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Rwenzori has about six peaks but Margherita is its highest and most popular the world over. It provides a unique experience to mountain climbers.
The peak was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO and it was recently gazetted as a Ramsar site requiring protection.
Moses Mapesa the Uganda Wild life Authority boss said access to the peak has since been blocked due to global warming. It is caused by gases such as carbon-dioxide from industrial processes, which trap the heat escaping from the earth surface.
Mapesa urged people to minimize activities that affect the eco-system around the mountain, lest more disasters occur.
According to researchers, the ice cap covered six square kilometers 50 years ago. It is now less than a square kilometer.
John Hunwick, the director of Rwenzori Trekking Services, said the crevasse appeared in the glaciers between April 18 and 20.
He added that the glaciers have been melting rapidly during the last four years, saying the country is losing a tourism treasure because it is unique to have ice on the equator.
The senior warden in charge of Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Nelson Guma, said the crack has occurred 5,000 meters above sea level.
He described it as a phenomenon beyond human control.
“This has posed a management challenge to us, but we have to adapt to this challenge,” added Guma.
UWA has dispatched a team to the mountain to ascertain the extent of damage on the route to Margherita, according to Guma. He also said options of re-routing to the peak would be considered.
Guma disclosed that other cracks had been reported on the side of the mountain in Bundibugyo district, adding that there was a possibility of faulting taking place along the mountain ranges.
The Kasese district environment officer, Augustine Koli, attributed the cracks to physical withering of rocks and glaciers.
The melting of the glaciers has also increased water flow into River Semliki, the natural boundary between Uganda and the DR Congo.
The increased water volumes have enhanced the erosive power of River Semliki, causing shifting of the river towards the over degraded banks in Rwebisengo.
Uganda Tourism news consultant