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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Conservationists give Leakey 7 days to resign for backing SGR to cut through park

KWS Chairman Richard Leakey./FILE
KWS Chairman Richard Leakey./FILE

Conservationists have criticized KWS chairman Richard Leakey for supporting construction of the SGR through the Nairobi National Park. They have given Leakey seven days to resign or “face citizens’ eviction or court action”.

Communities living with wildlife and conservationists said Leakey has failed to uphold the sanctity of protected areas and by extension all wildlife dispersal areas.

This comes amid disquiet at the Kenya Wildlife Service against Leakey for what employees termed “attempts to micromanage the service and usurp powers that should only be exercised by the KWS director general”.

David Osoi said in a press meeting convened by the Kenya Coalition for Wildlife Conservation and Management: “Since his reappointment, the parastatal has experienced some of the highest demoralisation in the organisation’s history. This state of affairs is a bigger threat to the wildlife and protected areas than poaching.”]

"Leakey has not injected any new big ideas for revamping and promoting wildlife conservation through controlling human-wildlife conflict, park encroachment, rampant bush meat poaching commonplace in and around National parks and reserves," Kahindi Lekalhaile from the African Network for Animal Welfare said.

The group said Leakey was behind the proposal to have the Standard Gauge Railway Phase Two cut through the park and was at the forefront on ignoring and blocking experts views on alternative routes and the irreparable damage they project will inflict on the park.

"The damages to the park are obvious to all natural resources and wildlife experts except Richard Leakey. With all his so called experience and reputation as a ardent wildlife conservationists, its still dump-founding how he supports a destructive undertaking insisted Nairobi National Park," Osoi said.

"We therefore demand that he resins henceforth as the chair KWS for wrongly advising the president. For failing to protect the conservation areas as his predecessors did, for being a stumbling block to conservation that has led to stalling of operations at KWS. Failure to resign in the next seven, we will move to court as well mobilize citizens' action to have him evicted," Sidney Quntai a community representative said.

Nkamunu Patita said even though SGR was a good project it only good outside the park and detrimental inside the park.

"Way before the parks were gazzetted were living with this wildlife and they were not being depleted either, therefore it is wrong for government to think that its only Leakey's of this world and other so called international figures that knows about wildlife better than us communities," She said faulting NEMA for issuing the permit for construction of SGR through the park against all public and expert advice.

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