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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nairobi Park Diary: What would cowie do?

A bronze portrait of Mervyn Cowie
A bronze portrait of Mervyn Cowie

We arrived at the Matbronze art gallery early one morning.At the entrance, a memorial bust of the late Mervyn Cowie caught my eye, and many thoughts flooded through my mind.

Thinking of the current crisis regarding many major conservation issues, like the Standard Gauge Railway and the leadership challenges in KWS, I asked myself, “What would Mervyn Cowie have thought if he lived today?But then who was this person? Colonel Mervyn Hugh Cowie was born in Nairobi in 1909 and lived in a hut on a farm at Kiambu, northwest of Nairobi. Before moving to Kenya, his father was chief magistrate of Johannesburg.Mervyn studied law and accountancy at Oxford University.

As the founding pioneer of so many national parks, including the Nairobi National Park, he was no doubt a man of great vision and results-orientated action. Towards the end of 1945, the government established national parks and appointed trustees. Cowie was appointed executive director. In December 1946, the Nairobi National Park was established and later the Tsavo National Park, Aberdare and Mount Kenya parks, Amboseli and many others, including the Serengeti in Tanzania.History now reveals that he masterminded the protection and conservation of Kenya’s wildlife and wilderness areas.

The KWS is in serious need of a team leader who can achieve meaningful results to ensure Kenya’s natural heritage is saved. Let’s hope that in 2046, the centenary of the Nairobi National Park will not be a time to mourn many losses, but rather a time of celebration in remembering those who acted now.

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