Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

 

Firstly my compliments on an excellent 4th edition in 2016 (October-December) with the articles on Kitili Mbathi and the NEMA regulations. Every article is noteworthy in itself.

My correspondence to you focusses on a visit made by myself and 25 members of the Mt. Kenya branch of the Kenya Horticultural Society (KHS) to the Kakamega Forest in January this year. We stayed four days at the Rondo Retreat Centre, an excellent facility from which to explore the southern portion of this forest, which we did with guides to take note of the flora and fauna of this unique forest.

Firstly we were very concerned at the lack of proper controls regarding access into the forest, the constant removal of timber, the burning of wood to make charcoal along the banks of the Yala river and the degradation of the perimeter.

Add to these concerns the volume of traffic coursing down the road between Kakamega and Chepsonoi with the resulting heavy dust pollution, and discussion of plans to tarmac this dust road to facilitate more heavy traffic directly through this highly sensitive forest, puts this forest at the highest risk of being further damaged.

The simple fact that four timber yards have opened up only 2 kilometres from the centre of this forest and 100 metres from a KFS [Kenya Forest Service] check point, reinforces the impression that the management of this southern section of the forest is obviously sadly absent.

Despite being told that permits are required to enter this forest, not one single KFS officer was seen during these 4 days and no checks were apparently being carried out on the passage of vehicles through this wonderful gem of nature.

My appeal is to your excellent body of members and professionals who make it their passion to protect such threatened assets to please advise us of the official situation regarding this forest and the initiatives in place to secure this highly-threatened bio-reserve. We look forward to perhaps an article on this subject in the next edition.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Alan M. Paul

Chairman

Eco Fuels Kenya Ltd

Box 1664 - 10400 Nanyuki

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Dear Sir

I refer to the July/September 2014 issue Vol 38 of Swara which highlights the
precarious situation in which Kenya's wildlife and our society is being 'attacked' from all quarters. It seems to boil down to greed and lawlessness. These elements are not new to Kenya but have reached crisis levels, so much so that the very cornerstone of Kenya's economy is being eroded to the detriment of our entire society.

How do we balance the safeguards of our amazing ecology with the demands of a burgeoning population desperate to improve their standard of living? There are many brave and well meaning people from all walks of life who are devoted to protecting our priceless heritage. Sadly there are also some conservationists who equate those Kenyans with a white pigmentation as being feudal and elitist.

Those interviewed by Storm Stanley (Swara Jan/March 2014) are passionate about preserving Kenya's heritage. They were born into families who chose to stay in Kenya after independence. Then we move to Damian Cook's piece on Tourism and the Crossroads, which makes so much sense. But the same sentiments have been voiced for many years within the tourism sector. At the AGM of KATO (Kenya Association of Tour Operators) in 1998 a unanimous resolution was passed to halt all further expansion of lodges and permanent tented camps in the Mara. This moratorium, although approved by the Government, soon collapsed due to avaricious tour operators and hotel developers looking for quick returns at the expense of this unique eco-system. The Narok County Council and tribal elders living in the wider Mara coalesced with the developers to destroy the sustainability of the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Mr Ulf.
 
Aschan's letter to the editor summarises the disastrous decline of the Mara. Those of us who have known the Mara since the 1960's bear witness to his remarks. Then we move on to page 23 to read that the use of drones for the purpose of managing wildlife and combating rampant poaching, has been suspended by the government. This is in stark contradiction to the declared policy of safeguarding our animals and tourists alike against
lawless elements within our borders. It is well documented that the illegal trade in
rhino horn and ivory fuel the activities of terrorists.

Jonathon Scott's excellent article with a plea to sign up now and join the "Why I Love Kenya" campaign is as timely now as it was when the East African Wildlife Society was inaugurated at the time of Independence. But is there the will by the Kenya government and ruling elite to implement stringent policies to protect our nation from different forms of exploitation? East Africa is Planet Earth's most magical destination.

The great dilemma remains as to how the rural communities around national parks, game reserves, conservancies are to be rewarded for protecting these priceless areas. Without their total participation, it becomes a losing battle. Entrepreneurs and industrial planners buy up or lease huge tracts of under-populated land for the furtherance of agriculture, manufacturing and techno-cities. Perhaps we need a global fund into which all countries within the UN inject hard currency on an annual basis to underpin the total protection of designated wilderness without compromise.

This money will compensate those rural communities living within or near these special habitats who must be rewarded for being the custodians of our heritage. This concept has been put forward before by Mr Richard Leakey, though seems to have run into difficulties. But the UN has many agencies that attract huge sums of money to alleviate starvation, run health campaigns, finance the plight of refugees and rescue those hit by natural disasters. Why not an emergency fund for Conservation? Every community receiving financial assistance from a global fund can be audited annually by an Independent Standards Commission.

Mixed messages from Kenya's leadership must cease and be replaced with laws that enforce security and healthy ecosystems in which wildlife thrives and all those living,
working and visiting Kenya feel safe. The security forces and police, KWS
and KFS, have a huge role to play in this endeavour. Tribalism has to give way to patriotism. There has never been a more desperate situation in our beloved Kenya as
is evident today.When there are Travel Advisories stating parts of Kenya are labelled as 'war zones' surely our government must act with a dedicated and transparent strategy from
the President downwards. The 'Wildlife Direct' Petition to stop poaching addressed to Margaret Kenyatta, Kenya's First Lady, is a step in the right direction.

 

Tony Church
P O Box 1609
20117 Naivasha, Kenya
Email: tony@samawati.co.ke
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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