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EDITORIAL

Encroachment threatens future Rhino Ark funding

In Summary

• Aberdares are the primary water tower for Nairobi.

• Existence of Golden Cat confirmed for first time since 1946.

Rhino Ark patron Lord Aberdare DL, Christian Lambrechts, executive director Rory Macdiarmind and Guy Tritton, chair of Rhino Ark UK, at the House of Lords in London last Tuesday.
Rhino Ark patron Lord Aberdare DL, Christian Lambrechts, executive director Rory Macdiarmind and Guy Tritton, chair of Rhino Ark UK, at the House of Lords in London last Tuesday.
Image: COURTESY

In May an extremely rare Golden Cat was killed on the road near Kieni Forest in the Aberdares (see p12-13). This was the first confirmed identification since 1946.

As well as being the primary water tower for Nairobi, the Aberdares are a refuge for many wild animals.

That is why the Kenya Forest Service and the private sector built the Rhino Ark fence starting in 1988 at a total cost of Sh1.5 billion.

 
 

However, encroachment is rapidly increasing inside the Aberdares and thousands of farmers are cultivating vegetables and keeping livestock inside the Rhino Ark fence. These are not traditional forest communities gathering in the forest.

When it was set up, Rhino Ark and KFS agreed that there would be no cultivation behind the fence and that only indigenous trees would be planted. Both those conditions are being flouted.

The longer we fail to intervene,  the more difficult it will be to remove the encroachers.

Rhino Ark and the KFS need to suspend farming inside the fence immediately. Otherwise, it will become impossible in future to fundraise for Rhino Ark to protect the Aberdares in perpetuity.

Quote of the day: "It's very worrying at this time in the world that any point of view should be prohibited, that's banned, there are heretics that should be burned at the stake."

Thabo Mbeki
The South African president was born on June 18, 1942