PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Industrial Farming Threatens Elephants in Wildlife Corridor in Amboseli Ecosystem

Nairobi, 15th September 2020: Photographs have emerged of a massive land clearing in preparation for the establishment of a commercial avocado farm right inside the wildlife corridor connecting Amboseli National Park and the Chyulu Hills/Tsavo ecosystem. The Amboseli elephants are the world’s best-studied elephants and decades of research have been used to generate maps of elephant movement corridors to best manage the landscapes used by these iconic animals while providing benefits to communities through conservancies.

WildlifeDirect joins other conservationists in pleading with Hon. Keriako Tobiko, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Mr. Mamo B. Mamo, the Director General of the National Management Environment Authority (NEMA) to revoke the license of an Agribusiness by KiliAvo and ensure that a proper ESIA is conducted. Currently, KiliAvo has hastily cleared over 150 acres of land and dug two boreholes for the purpose of creating an avocado farm inside the elephant corridor

Inquiries made by WildlifeDirect about who is behind KiliAvo led to a dead end with contractors on the ground conducting clearing and borehole drilling claiming that they did not know who the client was. Local community members allege that powerful politicians and foreign investors from Asia are behind the illegal move.

Stakeholders in Amboseli had previously halted the plans by raising issues of farming. WildlifeDirect objects to the farm on the following grounds;

  1. This project threatens the buffer zone and wildlife migratory corridor, therefore, it threatens the integrity of the Amboseli National Park.
  2. The land within the corridor has been zoned for pastoralism and wildlife and not farming according to the adopted and ratified Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan.
  3. The farm will exacerbate human-elephant conflict causing extreme suffering to the communities.
  4. The farm ignores the will of the community who gave land for the creation of the elephant corridor that has been fenced at great cost to donors and well-wishers.
  5. The water demand of avocados will cause irreparable damage to the water table in this fragile ecosystem and will affect the soil, habitats, and local communities in the area.
  6. The company did not comply with environmental regulations by providing adequate public notices, conducting public consultation, and NEMA failed to conduct proper Environmental and Social and Impact Assessment before issuing a permit.
  7. The Water Resources Management Authority failed to engage the local wildlife authority and did not assess the ecological and social consequences of sinking boreholes here.
  8. Land rich and cash poor communities owning land inside the corridor have been exploited by powerful local and international land buying companies and lured with promises of water and jobs.

“If allowed to proceed, the KiliAvo project will send a clear message that wildlife is not safe nor valued in Kenya. Species such as cheetah, bongo, hirola, rhino, wild dog, and roan antelope are on the brink of extinction in the country due to the threats to conservation caused by unthinking development. The continued abuse of the environment in Kenya is the cause of extreme poverty, climate change, and calamities such as the catastrophic flooding in the rift valley. We call on President Uhuru Kenyatta to urgently harmonize the plans of wildlife, forestry, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure development to ensure that these agencies stop causing irreparable damage to our vital life-supporting natural ecosystems. The President must demonstrate political will and pledge to secure all protected areas, buffer zones, critical corridors, forests, and dispersal areas into perpetuity as a vital means of safeguarding the nation’s heritage and natural wealth as well as ensuring resilience against global threats like climate change. Kenya cannot afford the ecological, social and political cost of manmade ecological catastrophes.” Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO WildlifeDirect

WildlifeDirect further calls on the relevant ministries and the Director of Criminal Investigations to investigate how these permits were issued despite the ecological and hydrological threats. We further urge DCI to prosecute all involved in the wrongdoing and urgently survey and gazette all recognized wildlife corridors in Kenya and ensure that caveats are placed on titles within these corridors.

REFERENCES

  1. Kenya Wildlife strategy
  2. Amboseli Ecosystem Plan
  3. Project EIA
  4. NEMA rejects bid to set up farms in Amboseli ecosystem By Stanley Ngotho
  5. Wildlife corridors and dispersal areas report by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife
  6. Secure Wildlife Corridors and Migratory Routes Vision 2030 Pillar
  7. Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan 2020-2030

For more information, please contact:

Victoria Wangui – WildlifeDirect, Communications Assistant

Email: victoria@wildlifedirect.org  +254 (0) 715 845 128

About WildlifeDirect:

WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan based conservation organization that has transformed anti-poaching results in Kenya through the award-winning conservation campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants” and the production of Africa wildlife documentaries.  The vision of WildlifeDirect is changing hearts and minds and laws to ensure that Africa’s wildlife endure forever. WildlifeDirect produces wildlife documentary series’ as part of its mission to connect Kenyans to their wildlife and nature and inspire them to treasure it and act to conserve it.