Mohammed Hersi’s take on the controversy over Nairobi National Park


(Posted 10th August 2020)

In another contribution does Mohammed Hersi, Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation and Director of Group Operations for the companies owning Pollmans Tours deal with the notion that the land of the Nairobi National Park is ‘useless‘ and should be opened up for development.

Writes Mohammed today:

Nairobi National Park (NNP) is NOT some vacant land, please get that into your head.

While many have been fighting for the continued and very existence of NNP we are also aware that many out there who salivate when they see any open space. They consider every open space occupied by trees , plants and innocent silent creatures as empty land and waste of space. It is clear that they slept through both geography and biology lessons in school.

Since NNP debate is once again a hot topic and we have your attention allow me to pen my thoughts.

Firstly NOT every single open space has to have human settlement besides man has been ruthless globally to evict other mammals and at the same time destroy what mother nature gave us. The universe is not just about man.

Nbi size is just about 700Sqkm while Greater Nbi ie Kiambu. Parts of Muranga, parts of Kajiado and Machakos can easily scale up to 20,000Sqkm.

On the other hand NNP is only 117 sqkm which is a drop in the ocean, even if we were to surrender NNP for human settlement it will never quench the hunger for land. It was originally called the Southern Conservation Reserve and that got whitled and whitled until we were left with 117 km.

NNP is NOT your ordinary piece of land . It is home to over 300 species of birds and if we add migratory ones we can hit 500 mark. They equally have a right to live and the right to exist which is very clear in all holy books be it The Bible , The Quran , The Gita etc

NNP was originally Maasai land including what is current Nbi city. We have communities around NNP that still allow animals on their land since NNP is also grazing area for herbivores in the dry season as they migrate along the Athi Kapiti plains. I must salute the Masai community who have always balanced their way of life and survival of the animals. Many of us don’t even know a simple fact that a Masai would never touch bush meat let alone eat it.

NNP is also a big Rhino sanctuary haven where they get relocated to other conservancies in Kenya. Rhino is seriously endangered and anyone who does not get that has no business to discuss NNP.

Most 80% of corporate, business and MICE visitors to Nairobi end up visiting NNP and it is also HQ of KWS the people who look after our fauna and flora. It is serious education centre for our children to learn about conservation besides NNP idea was mooted in 1917 and gazetted by people who were visionary way before Kenya was born.

Well we can still take NNP and make it a human settlement , will that solve our problem with congestion?

If we failed to deliver on many other fronts on 20,000+ Sqkm then some 110Sqkm will not solve our problem.

I even came across a letter by some Kenyans in the diaspora who go by the name ” Parents in USA” who support the same warped thoughts of annexing NNP or even reduce it to some useless zoo. These parents in USA maybe they can start a campaign to convert all available recreational parks in NY. LA. Atlanta and many others cities across USA and turn them into some concrete jungle. Going by their view then Central park in the heart of NY a congested city would be better off as an extension of the concrete jungle as opposed it to being used by sun worshipping sunbathers who pour out into park at the slightest sign of the sun and the many ” idlers” who just waste time doing nothing.

If it was their wish then Uhuru park will be gone and Karura is useless to have.

Lastly we take our clean air for granted….the day you land in Mumbai or Guangzhou and many other cities globally is when you will appreciate what these natural open areas do for our health.

Many other parts of the world we have people who have never seen stars and they marvel when they come to Africa. Thanks to smog and light pollution they see nothing.

NNP is part of the lungs that serve Nairobi city including many who see nothing but some 100×50 plots.

Finally to anyone who harbours thoughts to annex NNP sorry it is not vacant it has its owners….it is home for beautiful creatures created by the same God who created you and gave you a slightly more superior brain power.

Please think and think hard….

Mohammed Hersi
Kenya Tourism Federation

ATCNews has in the past often written about the park and the various challenges it faces and harshly criticized the intrusions and park land fragmentation by the SGR Madaraka railway line, then the SGR line from Nairobi to Naivasha which runs right through the park itself and is an eyesore of the highest order, the encroachment into the park by the Southern Bypass and KWS’ homegrown trampling down the green line, which individuals and companies, at great expense, had established along the boundary near the highway to the airport.

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