The week has been a really bad one for residents and wildlife of Amboseli. A construction company began detonating explosives and erecting fences in a sensitive wildlife area near Amboseli National Park. This area is also a community conservancy, which is generating income to local residents through lease payments. With the start of heavy construction and blasting – for a rock quarry and a nearby staff camp – wildlife is threatened and the community might not see any economic benefits.
AWF is working with partners to secure a wildlife linkage that stretches from Amboseli to the Chyulu Hills and Tsavo West National Parks in southern Kenya. While Amboseli is world renowned for its elephants and magnificent views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Park is far too small to support viable populations of elephants, predators and ungulates. Wildlife is dependent on the unprotected areas outside the Park for dispersal, which is why we have put our energy into this area.
The quarry and camp are located in this dispersal area—right smack dab in the middle of the corridor!
The quarry and camp are to service a road being renovated by a Chinese company called Sinohydro Corporation Limited. Recently, Sinohydro placed a camp in the most sensitive and narrow part of the corridor. In addition, the quarry they started blasting over the weekend is in the middle of the Osupuko Conservancy. Last year, AWF established the 3,000 acre Osupuko conservancy and a 6,000 acre conservancy called Kilitome through lease agreements with community members, key stepping stones for the corridor. These conservancies secure land for wildlife and provide benefits to the community.
Both the quarry and staff camp are in clear violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the road project: camps are not to be located in wildlife corridors, and the site for the quarry is not identified in the EIA!
We took this issue to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). NEMA issued a Stop Order, citing violation and mandating all activity to stop. But the local District Commissioner, wielding more power than he truly has, instructed the blasting to commence immediately.
Scouts and community members were forced off the property by District Police. Community members were threatened by police action and told not to meet. They have been barred from gathering.
As I write, Sinohydro continues to ignore the Stop Order. A fence has being built around the quarry site and they are putting up structures.
Sinohydro and the District Commissioner must stop violating Kenyan law. It is a shame the DC does not recognize the impact this is having on the communities in his district.
This is an avoidable situation. All of the groups that have expressed outrage at this are not opposed to the road, but want the environment and Kenya’s wildlife to be respected. Sinohydro can easily find an alternative location. There is no excuse. The violations on the environment, wildlife and human rights must stop immediately.
Help put pressure on Sinohydro to stop. Contact them and urge them to move the quarry.
Paul began with AWF based in Nairobi for a year, before moving to Washington DC. Paul has worked at the Madrid Aquarium and at The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands outside San Francisco. He was born in New Zealand but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul received his B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. He is a member of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leadership initiative and is working on a conservation campaign to combat the illegal trade of Asian pangolins. Paul enjoys photography, travel, hikes in the woods, music, and nyama choma.
AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.