NEMA blocks multi-milion farms within Amboseli Ecosystem

Various stakeholders and KWS officials collaring an elephant at Amboseli National Park Kajiado County.Photo Abdi Hussein

At A Glance…

The Amboseli Ecosystem Plan

It is an integrated plan that outlines how different land uses and natural resources in the, ecosystem will be managed for the greater good of all stakeholders.

 The plan takes a broad multi-sectoral approach on natural  resources in the ecosystem against different land uses and how these interact with one another and, ultimately, how they co-exist within the ecosystem.

By Abdi Hussein

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has not approved the multimillion agri-business farms within the Amboseli Ecosystem in Kajiado County in line with the new Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan (AEMP) 2020-2030.

Several companies and individuals had applied for permits to carry out agriculture within the Kimana wildlife circuit that comprises several private wildlife conservancies and the Amboseli National Park.

Some private developers had already sub-divided some of the land and began farming as small urban centres and villages cropped up, greatly reducing the area available for wildlife and pastoralism in the ecosystem.

Among the areas that are affected is the Kaputei area that is heavily settled and fenced leading to the virtual collapse of wildlife migratory patterns.

Namelok and Kimana swamps, the Lolturesh River, all the way down to the Soit Pus Swamp and areas around Iltilal have also been subdivided, settled and farmed.

To safeguard the wildlife and tourism in the area, stakeholders recently developed the management plan that has been enacted into law and is awaiting gazettement by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.

The plan protects migratory routes and spells out specific land use in various parts but restricts farming activities within the Kimana wildlife circuit.

Kajiado NEMA director Joseph Kopejo told County Press that they rejected the proposals after realizing the proposed farms are within the restricted areas as per Ecosystem plan.

Both local and foreign developers have acquired big chunks of land planning to set up multi-million Agri-business farming enterprises.

“We have so far rejected two multimillion proposed agricultural farms and we are analysing documents of three other companies which have applied for the same,” said Kopejo.

A warning has been issued to individuals conducting farming in the area without NEMA approvals and some farms might be forced to halt operations.

“NEMA will not be used as a rubber stamp by selfish individuals. We will carry out our mandate objectively as stipulated in the law. Systems will be rolling once the plan becomes a law by act of gazettement,” added Kopejo.

According to the Chairman Amboseli Land Owners Conservancy Association (Aloca), Samuel Kaangi, land subdivision in the area continues to threaten wildlife existence.

Over the years wildlife from Amboseli National Park have roamed freely within communal ranches, some which provide wildlife migratory routes from Amboseli to Tsavo National and Kyulu Hills national parks.

Most of the ranches have over the last few years, been subdivided into private pieces of land making owners an easy prey to land speculators.

“Some people feel they have not reaped enough benefits for conserving wildlife and are now disposing of their land to developers eyeing the land for agriculture and the hospitality industry thus endangering wildlife,” said Kaangi.

Senior government officers have also been blamed for using their positions to acquire land in the conservancies despite protests from Aloca members and their leaders.

“Aloca officials have received threats from powerful people in government who work with land brokers to demand that we cede our land,” says Kaangi.

He is, however, optimistic that AEMP will be integrated with the County Spatial Plan and the County Integrated Development Plans to be more effective

Aloca has continuously thwarted mushrooming of development projects within the Kimana circuit despite protests from land developers but land subdivision still remains the biggest challenge to the existence of Amboseli National park.

The management of private conservancies has urged the Ministry of Tourism to increase financial support to help them continue conserving wildlife on their ranches

KWS shares proceeds from tourism with six private conservancies neighboring the Amboseli National Park.

During the World Elephant Day recently commemorated in Amboseli National Park, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala lauded AEMP saying wildlife conservation is a collective task and promised to gazette AEMP forthwith.

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