Last week, many were taken aback by the killing of six lions by morans in Kitengela. This should be condemned in the strongest terms possible. It should, in fact, be considered economic sabotage.
But as we condemn this wanton destruction of wildlife, it is necessary to take a long-term look at the matter. Demographic and social changes are placing more and more people in direct contact with wildlife. As human populations grow, settlements expand into and around protected areas, as well as in urban and sub-urban areas.
In Africa, human population growth has lead to encroachment on wildlife habitats, constricting species to marginal habitat patches and leading to direct competition with local communities. In areas with abundant wildlife such as Samburu, Trans Mara, Taita, and Kwale, conflict is intensified by land use fragmentation and the development of small-scale farming.
In fact, state and trust ranches have been subdivided and sold as smallholdings and cultivated with commercial horticultural crops. This is what is now happening in Kajiado and Kitengela, where flower and vegetable growing has gone up. The solution to these human-wildlife problems lies in a selfless balance of planning to promote coexistence and minimize conflict.
The Nairobi National Park is left porous on the southern edge to allow unrestricted entry and exit of animals, which wander back south towards the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro around the Amboseli a Unfortunately, due to increasing human encroachment, the large herds that were previously sighted grazing, hunting, and roaming to and from the Nairobi plains are no longer visible.
Saving land for animal migration corridors and containing suburban sprawl is a necessity. We have finite resources in terms of the land that we can expand into; Nairobi should not have grown all the way to Kitengela, Rongai, or Ngong, and the pain of this sprawl is not only causing us agonizing travel to work, but also severe human-wildlife conflict at the edges of the Nairobi National Park. Humans have encroached where animals used to range freely. It is not the lions that are coming into people’s homes, it is people’s houses that are being built where the lions used to freely range and hunt.
Our city’s radial plan, where everyone converges in the CBD for work and to the periphery for sleep is mainly to blame for this. This poor planning has contributed in a big way to what is making everyone build far away from the CBD, and a huge uptake of public transport to the centre for work. The city planning department, therefore, takes the most blame for failing to create a mixed-use scenario.
SOURCE Daily nation newspaper 28/06/12