Mount Karthala or Karthola


Mount Karthala or Karthola is an active volcano and the highest point of the Comoros at 2,361 m above sea level. It is the southernmost and larger of the two shield volcanoes forming Grande Comore island, the largest island in the nation of Comoros. The Karthala volcano is very active, having erupted more than 20 times since the 19th century. Frequent eruptions have shaped the volcano’s 3 km by 4 km summit caldera, but the island has largely escaped broad destruction. Eruptions on April 17, 2005 and May 29, 2006 ended a period of quiet. The mountain is covered by moist evergreen forest up to about 1800 metres above sea-level. Higher up the vegetation consists of stunted trees and heathland where the giant heath Erica comorensis grows. Many of the species found on the mountain are unique to the Comoros and four bird species are found only on the slopes of Mount Karthala: Humblot’s flycatcher, Comoro white-eye, Comoro drongo and Karthala scops owl. The mountain’s forest is threatened by logging and the spread of agriculture. A nature reserve has been proposed to cover the mountain; it has not yet been created.