Kenya's Nationwide Blackout Caused By A Monkey -- Primate Triggers One Of The Largest Electrical Outages, And Survives

A monkey caused a nationwide blackout in Kenya. The primate is being blamed for one of the largest electrical outages that resulted in a loss of more than 180 MW.

A small monkey crashed Kenya's electrical infrastructure and kept it shuttered for a good three hours on Tuesday. The electrical outage spanned the entire nation's electricity supply, confirmed the Kenya Electricity Generating Co. The company noted that a small primate successfully managed to climb on the roof at the Gitaru Power Station. It is not clear if the monkey jumped or fell, but it did land on a transformer, setting in motion a number of mechanisms and fail-safe systems that eventually crippled the electrical supply to the entire nation.

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The company, which is referred to as KenGen, even posted a photo of the offending monkey on Facebook. Surprisingly, the company managed to snap the photo of the monkey still sitting on the transformer. According to Ars Technica, the monkey appears to be a vervet monkey, which is native to Kenya. The monkey appeared to have a collar of white fur.

Owing to the monkey's actions, the country suffered a loss of 180 MW of electricity.

How can a monkey cause a national electrical blackout? The electrical company released a statement, which explained how a small primate could shutter the electrical supply to an entire nation,
"The monkey climbed onto the roof of the Gitaru power station and then dropped onto a transformer, tripping it. This caused the other transformers to overload and trip, which in turn caused the whole power station to go offline. The loss of 180MW from the hydro plant was enough to cause a national blackout."
In other words, the monkey was responsible for setting in motion the consecutive and rapid failures of transformers, similar to a domino effect. Technically, with the primary transformer switching off, the other systems were overloaded and they in turn shut down to prevent a blow-up, reported the Washington Post. It has not been confirmed if the nationwide blackout was caused by the cascading failure of transformers or if it was more of a "brownout," during which various mechanisms of the grid were trying to deal with the sudden and massive imbalance in power generation.
The company didn't elaborate on how the monkey managed to enter the secure premises to trigger the power failure, but categorically noted that the power plant is properly secured with electrified fencing.
"KenGen power installations are secured by electric fencing, which keeps away marauding wild animals. We regret this isolated incident and the company is looking at ways of further enhancing security at all our power plants."
Gitaru is the largest hydropower station in East Africa, but its aging infrastructure is a huge burden on the country. The supply from the grid is unreliable at best, complain businesses that operate in the country. Many establishments routinely experience power cuts and have always complained about the exorbitantly high power tariffs. Quite a few businesses own and operate their own power generators that run on gasoline.
Astonishingly, the vervet monkey who brought an entire nation's electrical supply to a momentary standstill survived the incident and was duly handed over to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Locals complain the species is proving to be an increasing nuisance. These monkeys grow to about two feet in length, not including the tail, but cause a lot of ruckus and damage. Moving in packs, they can be seen everywhere in Kenya. The primates boldly scamper on power lines. So emboldened are these creatures that they can even sneak into kitchens and steal produce, reported New York Times.

Given the havoc played by the monkey, Kenyan authorities are expected to beef up the security at the power plant to prevent further mishaps.

[Photo by Jose A. Bernat Bacet/Getty Images]