Tag Archives: standard gauge railway

Extinction means no turning back

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.

Advertisements

Escape

Yet another lion was on the loose in Nairobi today. The lion, named Cheru, ‘escaped’ out of Nairobi National Park and wandered onto the chaotic Mombasa Rd, one of the major arterials that are almost always congested with traffic. He clawed a man- and then let the man go free- and was then captured shortly after by Kenya Wildlife Service and returned safely back to the park, which sits at the border of the bustling metropolis.

Last month, 6 other lions had reportedly escaped from the park and were found in the informal settlement area of Kibera and near Langata, near Karen- both residential areas. Many took to social media to express their panic and to also assist the KWS in tracking down these wild cats. Many pleaded not to shoot the lion as had been done once before- leaving orphan cubs in its trail- and deliver him back alive.

While the park is fenced on the city side, it has small openings on the south to enable wildlife to migrate through important corridors, which is allegedly where the lions wandered out of.

Gazetted in 1946 by British settlers, it is the oldest national park in Kenya, but sadly one that is under threat due to the need to manage the rapid development of this fast-growing nation. Plans are in place to build a Chinese railway through the park to improve trade routes from Mombasa to Nairobi and neighbouring countries.

While the Government prioritises development, and in the wake of this “escape”, protection of these areas of wilderness becomes all the more paramount. It is clear that we must prioritise the protection of these parks- for it is as much the lions’ land as it is ours.