Nairobi begun as an outpost along the railway connecting the Kenyan Coast, Mombasa, and the hinterland of the then British Protectorate of East Africa. 1900 was the year. Mile 318 what was it was originally called. Away from the man eaters of Tsavo and awash with cool water from its many springs, it was just too perfect an area both for man, and the beasts of the African Savannah. As the city outgrew the outpost, in 1946 an area next to it was demarcated. Part of the Athi-Kapiti ecosystem, it measured 117.2 square kilometers. To date, wildlife roam free in the Nairobi National Park.
Today, Nairobi stands tall as East Africa’s economic engine. The City within a game park it has been called. Or is the converse more accurate? I wonder. Either way, the tensions between Nairobi’s ambitions as a modern metropolis in the 21st century struggling with traffic and congestion; and the desire to maintain the integrity of the park continue to balloon.
The fight to protect the heritage of Nairobi National Park as a sanctuary for both man and beast is ever getting more volatile. The following text highlights some of the recent flashpoints in the history of this tug of war. Moreover, we lead you to how you can get involved in the fight to save the Nairobi National Park. Further, we supply details on the bio of organizations involved in this conservation fight. We also have included ways in how to contact the groups in question if you desire to get your skin in the game.
Under Threat: The Nairobi National Park
There’s an AFP report in The Guardian titled: Kenya’s iconic Nairobi national park is under threat, conservationists warn. The report succinctly captures what lies at the heart of the pressure on the park that kisses the city:
Like countries across the continent, Kenya is weighing the difficult balance between conservation and development.The century-old colonial railway yard is now a traffic-clogged major city growing at breakneck speedsthe Guardian
The SGR Question
Nairobi based, US and Kenya registered non-profit wildlife conservancy group WildlifeDirect in a blog post raise their opposition to this major infrastructure project. In the post, the standard gauge railway fronted by the government as key to Kenya’s social and economic goals, is under the spotlight as a threat to the Nairobi National Park.
In recent years, the park has come under increasing threat from uncontrolled development around its boundaries. Now the government is proposing to route the New Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) link from Nairobi to Mombasa right through the middle of the Park. The proposal has alarmed lovers of nature and wildlife in Kenya and around the world. The SGR would cut the Park in two and impede wildlife movements. It would destroy forever the tranquillity that makes the Park so valuable as a refuge from the frenetic pace and stress of urban life.WildlifeDirect
The Question Over A Bridge Over Nairobi National Park
TripAdvisor user, Samuel J, in a review of the world famous park mourns the ruin set to befall this beloved treasure. He dismissed the notion that the proposed ‘bridge’ over wildlife will blend into the surroundings.
There is now a plan to construct a railway bridge across the Park which those of us who love the place are most upset about. The bridge itself will become part of the landscape but the continuing erosion of this priceless asset is an erosion of a National TreasureSamuel J.
Pollution, Poaching, Fences & The Park
Jason Patinkin, writing for The Rockefeller Foundation Informal City Dialogues, elucidates other threats to the Nairobi National park:
Unplanned urban sprawl isn’t the only threat to the park. There is a constant threat of poaching—a rhino was killed for its horn just two weeks ago—and Palmeris says recent years have seen massive flooding that has hurt wildlife and vegetation; the floods are the result of paving over wetlands and green space in Nairobi, causing rainwater to rush into the lowland reserve. And the construction of a leather tanning factory just a few feet from the park fence in the southeastern corner has caused so much pollution that the Kenya Wildlife Service had to close a tourist entrance there a few years ago. The fumes from the tannery, Achieng (KWS game warder whose name has been altered) said, were so corrosive they had to replace the metal roof of the ranger station once a yearJason Patinkin
Is A Buffer Zone The Solution?
Gayling May, chairman of Nairobi Greenline Trust, writing in a local daily, offers a sustainable solution. May acknowledges the inevitable changes that the park that envelopes one end of the city is set to undergo. Moreover, May argues that all is not lost even as the 21st century catches up on Nairobi:
The park offers economic gains, something the government wants to uphold through tourism . The public must come together to protect the future of this park, currently under siege, and request that an alternative route for SGR be considered. The Nairobi Greenline has been working with like-minded partners to create a buffer zone within the park to protect the it from encroachment. Within the forest, the Nairobi Greenline has marked selected scenic sections to create picnic sites. These sites will serve people walking and riding on the walking/jogging trail.Gayling May
Bios Of Lead Conservancy Organizations In Efforts To Save The Nairobi National Park
Information from its official website describes WildlifeDirect as follows: Previously the Africa Conservation Fund, it was founded in 2004 by the prominent Kenyan conservationist and paleoanthropologist, Dr. Richard Leakey, and former World Bank Representative to Kenya, Harold Wackman.
WildlifeDirect’s Mission is: Changing hearts, minds and laws to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever. It’s website lists various ways that anyone joining them to realize this mission can take action. These include: making a donation, shopping to support, participate in planned activities and joining the movement. You can contact them here.
Nairobi Greenline Trust
Information from its official website describes Nairobi Greenline Trust as follows: Nairobi GreenLine was launched on 18th February 2010. The project was an initiative of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other corporate organizations. You can contact them here.
Kenya Wildlife Service
According to its website, KWS conserves and manages Kenya’s wildlife for the Kenyan people and the world. KWS is a state corporation that was established by an Act of Parliament (Cap 376). That act is now repealed by WCMA (2013). Today, KWS has the mandate to conserve and manage wildlife in Kenya, and to enforce related laws and regulations.
The KWS website is a wonderful resource on Kenya’s Wildlife protected areas and natural sanctuaries. Moreover, all the laws governing the conservation of wildlife can be found there. You can contact KWS here.