Balala urged to block new KWS proposals on Nairobi Park - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 6 August 2020

Balala urged to block new KWS proposals on Nairobi Park

A lioness rests on a signage at Nairobi's National Park: REUTERS

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has been asked to declare a moratorium on all developments in the Nairobi National Park.

Lobby group African Sustainability Network tells Balala in an August 3 letter that any government-sanctioned development leading to loss of habitat sets a precedent of irreversible ecological impacts.

Recently, the Kenya Wildlife Service announced that it intends to build a high-end ecolodge, develop its Club House into a premium restaurant (Orpul Place) as well as improve infrastructure in the park.

“While more developments may serve short-term tourism and investor interests, any new alterations threaten to permanently harm the delicate ecosystem," the ASN says in the letter signed by project manager Fazeela Mubarak.

"The impact will ultimately render it (the park) barren and the ecosystem and life which once attracted both the investor and the visitor, will be no more,” the newly established not-for-profit organisation says.

The KWS said it had flagged 12 issues facing the park that it intends to fix. They include habitat loss and fragmentation in the dispersal areas, decline in wildlife population, poaching, human-wildlife conflicts, alien and invasive species, pollution, mining and quarries.

The others are climate change, low park visitation, increased urbanisation, settlement threats on the sheep and goats ranch, and infrastructure development.

To cure some of those problems, it will improve the park, progressively fence willing landowners in the park’s buffer zone, design and establish adventure activity concessions and facilitate alternative activities to traditional game-viewing.

It has proposed an integrated land use management in the park's buffer zone and wildlife dispersal areas to achieve the habitat’s management objectives.

But conservationists complain that already wild animals are unable to roam since the park has been fenced on three sides due to the spread of city. The unfenced southern boundary and the banks of River Mochiriri are the favoured refuge for breeding lions.

The KWS wants to fence the land along the southern boundary to reduce human-wildlife conflict. This has alarmed conservationists like African Sustainability Network, who say the fencing will affect the Naretunoi community, the Maasai clan occupying the park’s buffer zone.  

The conservationists stated: "We recognise the community’s crucial role in the preservation of our shared national heritage through their very existence and way of life, one of harmony and respect for nature, and to whom generations of Kenyans - past and present - owe the ability to enjoy a global treasure in their own backyard.” 

They fear that fencing-off of the dispersal area will also pose a permanent obstacle to food and water sources for thousands of animals, as well as the loss of natural breeding grounds.

“And our entire nation, and the planet, will have lost,” the ASN letter to Balala says.

Any maintenance or upgrades of the park, it states, should be researched and carried-out with maximum care to ensure both human and animal inhabitants are not negatively impacted.

It proposes that amenities like eateries should be run by the local community.

The Network works in partnership with other organisations in capacity building and empowering agencies responsible for enforcing environment, sustainability and conservation regulations.



  • The Nairobi National Park is Africa’s only game reserve within a capital city.
  • The park is unfenced on the southern side, with Mbagathi River being the boundary.
  • Naretunoi Conservancy was founded in 2016. The Maasai word means ‘to support each other’ which in a larger context also takes in co-existence with wildlife.
  • Over the years, there was migration of the wildlife across the Athi-Kitengela plains to Nairobi National Park.
  • The migration ended in the 1990s when the Namanga Road was built and buildings and fences came up.
  • KWS has proposed a 10-year plan to fence land along the southern boundary to reduce conflict between people and animals.

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