Nairobi, KENYA -- On Saturday, Chinese-owned Sinohydro Corporation Limited began detonating heavy explosives in a sensitive wildlife area to begin the excavation of an illegal rock quarry, effectively signaling the end of a key wildlife corridor and potential tourism revenue for local communities.
Sinohydro Corporation located the quarry and a staff camp within a critical wildlife corridor extending from Amboseli National Park to Kimana Sanctuary to Tsavo and Chyulu National Parks. This corridor is vital to the survival of Amboseli's wildlife as well as tourism and income-generating enterprises benefitting the local communities.
Community members of Oloitoktok District, the African Wildlife Foundation, Amboseli Trust for Elephants, and other alarmed conservation groups are protesting the project, which is in direct violation of a Stop Order issued by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) on Friday of last week.
The quarry, to be used for the Emali-Oloitoktok Road, falls within the 3,000 acre (1,214 hectares) community-owned Osupuko Conservancy, which was created by 50 landowners from the Kimana community via a lease agreement signed in October 2008 with AWF.
The staff camp is located on the east side of the road, directly adjacent to the Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary, a community sanctuary providing benefits to members of the Kimana Group Ranch. The camp is in direct violation of the 2007 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which states, "Contractor's Camp shall-- not be installed in the areas used as wildlife grazing areas or migratory corridors."
"The quarry and camp will have a severe impact on the wildlife, natural surroundings, and livelihoods of people living in the area," said Dr. Helen Gichohi, President of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). "By no means are we against the road development. However, Sinohydro can and should use an alternative site for the quarry and camp that is not in a wildlife corridor, and they should obey Kenya's environmental laws."
Disregarding the Stop Order issued by NEMA, Oloitoktok District Commissioner, Mr. David Ole Shege, authorized excavation to begin on April 25. Mr. Ole Shege brought police to the construction site to bar community protesters and wildlife scouts from the site as Sinohydro began the illegal work.
Currently, AWF, the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, the East African Wildlife Society, African Conservation Centre, Satao Elerai, Maasailand Preservation Trust, Ol Donyo Wuas, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, and community members are seeking the Stop Order issued by NEMA to be obeyed.
"If action is not taken soon to stop the construction, it could cause irreversible damage to the region, and hurt the livelihoods of Kenyans who are starting to participate in wildlife-based enterprises," said Dr. Harvey Croze of Amboseli Trust for Elephants.
African Wildlife Foundation and Amboseli Trust for Elephants are not-for-profit, conservation organizations that have provided wildlife management information and conservation leadership in the Amboseli ecosystem for decades. We and the other organizations listed above are convinced the proposed quarry and camp are harmful in the extreme to the wildlife and the human livelihoods of southern Kajiado.
Photos and Maps available upon request.
African Wildlife Foundation
John Butler, (+1) 202-939-3333
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Soila Sayialel, (+254) 722399491 (mobile)
1400 16th St NW Suite 120
Washington DC, USA
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