Monkey Causes Blackout in Kenya

August 7, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. inadvertently /ˌɪn ədˈvɜr tnt li / (adv.) – to happen unintentionally or accidentally
Example: Since our bags were similar, I inadvertently picked up hers.

2. pesky / ˈpɛs ki / (adj.) – annoying or causing trouble
Example: My pesky cousin drew on my face while I was sleeping.

3. trip / trɪp / (v.) – to cause something to turn on by accident
Example: The cat tripped the motion sensors in the building.

4. occurrence / əˈkɜr əns / (n.) – an incident or event
Example: A solar eclipse is a rare occurrence.

5. culprit / ˈkʌl prɪt / (n.) – a person who is guilty of something
Example: The culprits who broke the window were the boys playing soccer.


Read the text below.
A wild monkey got into a power station and inadvertently caused a blackout in Kenya.

In June, a pesky vervet monkey got on the roof of the Gitaru Hydroelectric Power Station, the country's largest generator. The monkey then fell on a transformer, accidentally tripping it. The event caused other transformers to overload and ultimately resulted to the whole power station shutting down.

For 15 minutes, all 4.7 million houses and business establishments in the country were left without power.  Although power was immediately restored to some areas, it took four hours to bring back the electricity to the whole country. The monkey was later captured and handed over to the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), which owns the Gitaru power station and provides around 80% of energy used in the country, released a statement following the blackout. In the statement, it said that the company secures its facilities with electric fences, and that the occurrence was an isolated incident. It also said that KenGen is currently looking for ways to improve security in all its facilities.

Power outages caused by animals are not uncommon. In May, 40,000 people in Seattle were affected when a raccoon entered a power substation. Later that month, a similar incident that also involved a raccoon happened in Colorado Springs, which affected 5,600 people. The most common culprits in the United States, however, are not raccoons, but squirrels, as evidenced by reports from the website Cyber Squirrel 1. It tracks power outages caused by squirrels and other animals and displays on a map where the incidents take place.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What could have been the possible effects of the blackout in Kenya?
·         How can KenGen ensure that this incident will not happen again?

Discussion B

·         Do you think a power outage caused by an animal could also happen in your country?
·         What animals usually cause destruction or disturbances in your country?

August 7, 2016