Kenya’s multi-billion dollar Standard Gauge Railway project will cut through 2 major national parks in Nairobi and Tsavo. In the largest infrastructure project since Kenya became independent in 1963, replacing the old Ugandan Railway, there’s a lot resting on its success, which is anticipated to massively boost economic development, regional integration, and social and political development.
Set to be completed by 2017, construction is reportedly driving wildlife out of Nairobi NP, which has recently resulted in lost lions and sadly the tragic and public death of 13-year old Mohawk the lion 20 days ago. Soon, construction will run through Tsavo NP, which is home to about 12,000 elephants. The balance between economic development and wildlife conservation appears increasingly difficult to strike with time. Species are fast becoming critically endangered, and some rest dangerously on the precipice of extinction, like the African elephant. If things continue the way they are, it’s expected they’ll be extinct within one generation.
While consultation between key wildlife management authorities, the planning ministries of the government and CBRC, the building contractor, are ongoing- the stark truth must be realised that habitat loss and the displacement of wildlife will catalyse the decreases in population numbers and the anticipated extinction of key species. At that point, the damage will be final. Irreversible, and no turning back. Something that no economic gain will ever be able to help, and will, in fact, represent a reversal of a nation’s development.