By Roy Hezron
Conservation groups have urged Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to revoke the license given to a private developer in Amboseli National Park.
A statement addressed to Tobiko and the National Management Environment Authority (NEMA) Director General Mamo B. Mamo said KiliAvo should be stopped from farming in the park.
“Currently, KiliAvo has hastily cleared over 150 acres of land and dug two boreholes for the purpose of creating an avocado farm inside the elephant corridor,” confirms the statement.
In the statement Wildlife Direct warned that the project threatens the elephant and other wildlife migratory corridor hence interfering with the integrity of the Amboseli National Park.
“The President must demonstrate political will to protect buffer zones, critical corridors, forests, and dispersal areas to safeguard the nation’s heritage and natural wealth,” said the CEO Dr. Paula Kahumbu in the statement.
She said the government should also ensure resilience against global threats like climate change.
“Kenya cannot afford the ecological, social and political cost of manmade ecological catastrophes,” said Kahumbu.
She warned that the land within the corridor has been zoned for pastoralism and wildlife and not farming according to the adopted and ratified Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan.
Further, the farm will exacerbate human-elephant conflict causing extreme suffering to the communities.
WildlifeDirect further stated that the ongoing activity ignores the will of the community who gave land for the creation of the elephant corridor.
It is further claimed that the company did not comply with environmental regulations by providing adequate public notices, conducting public consultation.
NEMA is also blamed for its failure to conduct proper Environmental and Social and Impact Assessment before issuing a permit.
“Inquiries made by WildlifeDirect about who is behind KiliAvo led to a dead end with contractors on the ground conducting clearing and borehole drilling claiming that they did not know who the client was,” said Kahumbu.
She said local community members allege that powerful politicians and foreign investors from Asia are behind the illegal move.
Further, the Water Resources Management Authority failed to engage the local wildlife authority and did not assess the ecological and social consequences of sinking boreholes in the area.
Land rich but cash poor communities owning land inside the corridor have allegedly been exploited by powerful local and international land buying companies and lured with promises of water and jobs.
“If allowed to proceed, the KiliAvo project will not send a clear message that wildlife is not safe nor valued in Kenya,” cautions Kahumbu.
Species such as Cheetah, Bongo, Hirola, Rhino, wild dogs, and Roan antelopes are on the brink of extinction in the country due to the threats to conservation.
Dr. Kahumbu said: “We call on President Uhuru Kenyatta to urgently harmonize the plans of wildlife, forestry, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure development to ensure that these agencies stop causing irreparable damage to our vital life-supporting natural ecosystems.”
WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan based conservation organization that has transformed anti-poaching results in Kenya through the award-winning conservation campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants” and the production of Africa wildlife documentaries.