ICONIC SPECIES

Court allows Koroga Festival to go on

In Summary

• WildlifeDirect took action in the public interest and is now launching an Environmental Justice Desk.

Wildlife at Hell's gate Park.
Wildlife at Hell's gate Park.
Image: File

A Nakuru court on Wednesday ruled against WildlifeDirect’s application for an injunction as well as a petition against the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Naivasha Love Festival over the Koroga Festival which is planned for Friday and Saturday at Hell’s Gate National Park.

In the ruling before  Justice Mutungi at the Environment and Land Court at Nakuru Law Courts, the judge stated that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

Conservationists said the ruling "is a great loss and injustice to wildlife and protected areas in Kenya."

Section 44 of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act emphasizes the need for management plans and requires that “No development will be approved in the absence of management plans approved”.

Dr Paula Kahumbu, the Chief Executive Officer at WildlifeDirect who attended the court hearing, stated, “Success is not winning a court case. Success is thriving wildlife. It is a very sad day for Kenya and lovers of wildlife that the agency responsible for the conservation of wildlife has accepted Sh700,000 ($7000) despite the fact that the event imperils critically endangered species in an already degraded park.”

WildlifeDirect took action in the public interest and is now launching an Environmental Justice Desk at its office to support environmental advocacy and citizen action by providing legal support.

This is to ensure environmental and wildlife compliance in Kenya. WildlifeDirect invites partners to support this initiative and engage the organisation to enhance sustainable development in Kenya.

Conservationists said Hell’s Gate is an important bird area of international significance.

It is home to a breeding colony of critically endangered Ruppell vultures and is used by many other threatened birds of prey, including eagles, falcons, hawks, buzzards, and owls.

In its petition, WildlifeDirect cited that holding the Koroga Festival in the park will go against the basic purpose of national parks, which are intended as spaces for the protection and tranquil enjoyment of the natural environment, and it could set a dangerous precedent.

The NGO said the ruling is in clear contradiction to the objectives of the national park, in accordance with its status as a Category II Protected Area under the IUCN classification system.

This is because the natural biodiversity along with its underlying ecological structure and supporting environmental processes must be protected.

WildlifeDirect’s position has been endorsed by the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) and the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF).