REPRIEVE FOR NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK?
Nairobi National Park’s public voice, FoNNaP or Friend of Nairobi National Park, was heard loud and clear earlier in the week when Dr. Paula Kahumbu, recently honoured by the National Geographic Society for her conservation work in Kenya, spoke to the chief engineer of the Kenya National Highways Authority in Kenya’s capital. With other conservation groups involved in a last ditch effort to review the new proposed Wildlife Bill and coordinate responses ahead of a crucial deadline early in the new week, when stakeholder consultations go underway, it was up to Paula to be Nairobi National Park’s main advocate.
Notably, the highway authority was apparently unaware of the migration patterns of zebra and wildebeest, which were presented to them based on a radio tracking survey conducted by the University of Colorado, in addition of which the Kitengela / Isinya land use plan, itself only publicly launched on Friday, was also handed to the highway authority’s officials.
In response the chief engineer then alleviated the greatest fear of the planned highway being so close to the Nairobi National Park as to ‘hem it in’ when he pointed to a far more distant route, much further away from the park boundaries than had been feared, but concerns remained as the remaining open migration route would nevertheless be greatly impacted. It is understood that the highway authority will consider to include flyovers and underpasses for the projected route to allow wildlife to continue migrating while also assuring FoNNaP of the authority’s desire to make this a model of holistic planning and implementation to aid conservation efforts and retain the identity of the park. Further consultative meetings were agreed in order to monitor progress and allow sufficient time for substantive inputs.
In a related development it was also learned that NEMA Kenya has declared itself in regard of the highway, that it would not permit any construction along or across migratory routes which would disrupt the flow of animals in and out of the park.
Thanks to FoNNaP and to Paula, who’s daily encounters with wildlife and birds in her Langata office you can follow on Twitter via @paulakahumbu