AMBOSELI REGION, KENYA--In response to a suit filed by a coalition of conservation groups and tourism investors, the Kenya High Court ordered construction firm Sinohydro Corporation Ltd. to suspend excavation of an illegal quarry located within a critical wildlife corridor extending from Amboseli National Park to Kimana Sanctuary to Tsavo and Chyulu National Parks.
The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, East African Wildlife Society, Ol Donyo Wuas and other conservation groups and tourism operators joined with community members to oppose Sinohydro's activities after the company ignored a Stop Order issued by Kenya's National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) by filing for an injunction.
"This court order is only a temporary win in holding off this grave threat to lands that are vital to the survival of Amboseli's wildlife as well as tourism and income-generating enterprises benefiting the local communities," says Helen Gichohi, President of the African Wildlife Foundation. "We are calling for the company to permanently cease excavation and find a suitable site."
The quarry, to be used for the Emali-Oloitoktok Road, falls within the 3,000 acre community-owned Osupuko Conservancy, which was created by 50 landowners from the Kimana community via a lease agreement signed in October 2008 with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). The quarry site was not identified in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); thus, a direct violation of the EIA.
The camp for Sinohydro workers is located 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 EIA, which states, "Contractor's Camp shall-- not be installed in the areas used as wildlife grazing areas or migratory corridors."
Violating Kenya law, Sinohydro on April 25 began detonating heavy explosives in the conservancy.
"We are writing to share our support of the NEMA Stop Order and ask that NEMA enforce the Stop Order and make the company cease activity immediately," community members wrote in a memorandum issued April 29 to NEMA.
After Sinohydro ignored the NEMA Stop Order, the coalition took the matter to the Kenyan High Court. By court order, Sinohydro must leave the conservancy until the case is heard in late May.
"All we are asking is for Sinohydro to follow Kenya's environmental laws," said Harvey Croze, Trustee of Amboseli Trust for Elephants. "Sinohydro can find an alternative more suitable site that is not disruptive to the wildlife and corridor, and the road work can continue."
Approximately 15 organizations and tourism operators have joined the coalition calling for Sinohydro to relocate the quarry and abandon the camp. They state that the activity is in violation of Kenyan law and will have a severe impact on the wildlife, the landscape and income generation.
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.
Photos and Maps available upon request.
African Wildlife Foundation
Kathleen H. Fitzgerald, (+254) 20-271-0367;
(+254) 0729406222 (mobile)
John Butler, (+1) 202-939-3333
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Harvey Croze, (+254) 0722677711
Soila Sayialel, (+254) 722399491 (mobile)
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