A wild vervet monkey that lost its footing caused a nationwide blackout in Kenya last month, according to Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) officials.
It all started when the monkey climbed onto the roof of KenGen’s Gitaru Power Station, then fell onto a transformer, tripping it. The primate’s fall caused other machines in the station to trip, resulting in the loss of 180MW from the plant. The national blackout lasted more than three hours before power was restored. Some homes in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi were still without power the following day, despite KenGen announcing it had resolved the issue.
KenGen is the East African country’s biggest power producer. Located on the Tana River, Gitaru is the largest hydropower station in East Africa and accounts for 9.6 per cent of the country’s installed capacity of 2,333MW.
“KenGen power installations are secured by electric fencing which keeps away marauding wild animals,” KenGen said in a company statement. “We regret this isolated incident and the company is looking at ways of further enhancing security at all our power plants.”
Monkey business isn’t the only thing troubling Kenya’s power system: Kenyan businesses regularly complain that power cuts — due to its aging grid — and unreliable supplies make them uncompetitive and hurt growth.
The monkey survived and is now in the custody of the Kenya Wildlife Service, according to reports. Vervet monkeys, which are about two feet long, not including the tail, are prevalent throughout Kenya. They often travel in packs, scampering along power lines, and are known to steal food.