KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE COMES UNDER INSTANT PRESSURE TO EXPLAIN THEIR BAN ON DR. PAULA KAHUMBU
(Posted 18th February 2020)
Dr. Paula Kahumbu, a locally and internationally highly respected conservationist, has reportedly been barred today from entering the Nairobi National Park. This follows her spirited campaign against KWS for having allowed the recent Koroga Festival to be held inside a protected area, the Hells Gate National Park.
While Dr. Paula and co-plaintiffs lost the case over a technicality, was Kenya’s conservation community nevertheless outraged and the impact on the standing of the organizers of the festival is already felt as they have been named and shamed as perpetrators of this assault on a protected and fragile ecosystem and outed as eco-illiterates.
One of the comments Paula posted on her Facebook page seems to have ruffled one too many feathers as she wrote: ‘When I first joined KWS we were united in our mission and vision. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I think the words of our first President, Jomo Kenyatta should still hold true. Our protected areas are protected for the wildlife first. We are legally duty bound to use them in appropriate ways only. What is happening in our parks in Kenya today with music festivals and safari rally’s in sensitive habitats is a travesty that must cause the nation to consider the impacts of the ongoing destruction‘.
Brigadier (retired) John Migui Waweru clearly took offence over the legal case and the subsequent mobbing he received on social media platforms and resorted to this illegal action, putting him at par with one of his predecessors. Eight years ago had the then DG of KWS, one Dr. Julius Kipngetich the CEO of EcoTourism Kenya, Mr. Kahindi Lekailhaile arrested, using an obscure legal provision to have police pick him up and throw him behind bars.
This and other events led to the eventual resignation of Kipngetich just months later in disgrace and his subsequent failure in positions like CEO of Uchumi left further stains on his already damaged reputation.
Waweru is now being challenged, by ATCNews and other news organisations and the entire conservation fraternity, why his organization barred Dr. Paula from entering the Nairobi National Park and to immediately restore her right to entry, irrespective of his bruised ego.
The Chairperson of the KWS Board of Trustees, Dr. John Waithaka, is equally challenged to reign in his riot running Director General and explain to the public what had led to the barring of Dr. Paula Kahumbu from entering the park, as neither she nor competent others are aware of any breach of law on her side or legal ruling against her which could prevent her from entering this and other protected areas in Kenya.
In further comments on her Facebook page did Dr. Paula Kahumbu state: ‘
Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments.
I’ve not commented on the personalized attacks on me by our friends at the national conservation agencies. As I’ve stated before, this is not personal. My mission is to defend and protect wildlife. Success is thriving wildlife. Our parks, which are held and managed in trust for citizens and the world at large, are the most important places to defend first and foremost.
Our wildlife is in crisis, our ecosystems are at breaking point, planetary boundaries have been exceeded – we see it in floods, droughts, famines, population die offs, locust invasions, rivers drying up, polluted lakes, cancer explosions, disease epidemics and so on.
I spent four nights in the wilderness sleeping under the stars, listening to owls hoot hooting, lions roaring, hyenas whooping and a multitude of other creatures creaking, chirping, rustling and growling. The temperature fell to 11 degrees at night, the sky was a sea of twinkling flickerings, and the breeze carried scents containing wild messages – a language I could not decipher. I feel so privileged.
Being in nature is so healing. I can’t imagine the chaotic violence of loud thumping so-called music on alcohol deadened eardrums of young people who are being deceived into believing that this is an experience in nature. Most of the people will have never been into a park before. What a violent ugly introduction! The wildlife will be affected, KWS have said as much in their statements to the court. But then so what? “it’s just a few birds” the lawyers for the festival argued.
I still cannot believe that this is where we are as a country and as a people. So unfortunate … there are no words to adequately describe the horror and sadness at seeing wilderness turned into something so ugly. … and for what? Pennies? To entertain youth? I’m thrilled that so many people have said they will boycott the event and I hope that they inform the organizers why they have done so.
We must be energized into action by this crisis – to look for solutions that save our ecosystems and species for nature and our own health.
We will launch a series of discussions and workshops with partners in coming weeks as we seek to our Kenya back on a more rational path.
Have a gray Valentine’s Day everyone’.
ATCNews, as a result of these events and circumstances, has decided, until further notice, against publishing any material sent out by KWS and related Kenyan government bodies to publish and gain them visibility and publicity.
www.ATCNews.org expresses its fullest support for Dr. Paula Kahumbu and her team and the Kenyan conservation fraternity at large who stood up to KWS over the Korogo Festival and other issues and continue to oppose bad KWS decisions in full compliance with Kenya’s laws.