he reality that Nairobi National Park could eventually end up as a zoo is slowly sinking in following unplanned land sales that are blocking animal migratory routes in Kajiado.
Conservationists have also warned that the unregulated developments in the wildlife dispersal areas have increased cases of human-wildlife conflict.
Kajiado County land executive Richard Parsitau says even though the county froze all land transactions in June 2013, they continue an abated.
“We have had several cases of deaths, property destroyed and even crops destroyed by animals because the corridors and dispersal areas being blocked,” he says.
The problem is largely beyond the control of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) because most of that land is free-hold.
KWS acting director general William Kiprono says they have, however, deployed rangers to those areas to prevent animals harming people or destroying crops.
Nairobi National Park, located about 7 kilometres from the city centre, covers 28,963 acres and is the oldest park in Kenya.
There is electric fencing around the park’s northern, eastern, and western boundaries. Its southern boundary is formed by the Mbagathi River. This boundary is not fenced and is open to the Kitengela Conservation Area. In the dry season, animals can reach their southern pastures by travelling through Kitengela to the Athi plains. But these routes are now being cut off.
This means stranded animals might either begin to die of hunger and thirst in the park, or they might begin trampling through people’s homes and shambas looking for pasture.
Kiprono says diminishing land is the number one threat to wildlife in Kenya.
The deputy director of species conservation and management, Patrick Omondi, says they have identified the wildlife dispersal areas and corridors for migration.
“Agriculture remains the greatest challenge facing wildlife today than poaching. We have mapped out corridors and dispersal areas out of various researches for declaration as such,” he said last week at the elephant national day.
Parsitau calls on the national government to fund KWS to buy off those lands from private owners.
“Surveyors did a shoddy job and as a result there are several overlaps covering a very large area.We have cases whereby land has been irregularly allocated,” he said, adding that all land transactions since June 2013 are null and void.
“All those wishing to do land transactions within the county must hold the appetite for it until such a time when the ban has been lifted. Land owners should move with speed and conduct a search on their land while those with disputes should register with land management board,” Parsitau says.
A recent baseline report on land ownership in Kajiado County by the Youth Empowerment Support Service shows that communities dispose of their land at a high rate. Some of the land is acquired fraudulently.
“The Ilkeekonyokie area which covers part of Kajiado North, Magadi, Kisames, Suswa, Ol Tepesi, Eremit is most notorious with cases of fraudulent land acquisition,” the report says.
Among youth respondents, 74.1 per cent acquired land through inheritance, 20.7 per cent through purchase and 5.2 per cent were allocated by county government.
The report adds that all the households originally owned 534,123 acreage but the current acreage is 474,518, representing a decline of 59,605 acres (11.2 per cent) from the original.
Land disposition and subdivision increases along the major tarmac roads and stretches in some areas up to 10 km into the interior, the report says.
The disposition is now characterised by construction boom. “The implications of this are fragmentation of lands including pastoral land, rapid unplanned urbanisation, sprawling towns and encroachment on protected areas as well as depletion of agricultural zones,” the report says.
The most affected area is the triangle of Kitengela, Kajiado, and Kiserian where up to 95 per cent of the land touching the tarmacked road has been sold. “The intensity of fenced land along the major roads Kitengela-Namanga, Isinya-Kiserian, Kitengela-Ongata Rongai, Kitengela-Olooloitikoshi, Kiserian-Magadi, Bissil-Metto, and Bissil-Maparasha demonstrates the extent of sales,” the report says.
Land Taskforce chairman for Kajiado County Hamilton Parseina warns that the land sub-divisions are likely to be disastrous for the Nairobi National Park.
“When I was young, I used to see a never-ending line of wildlife migrating, but this has since been curtailed as a result of unplanned towns everywhere as well as land subdivision. The park might even become a zoo,” Parseina says. “This indiscriminate allocation of public land in public places and markets, illegal allocation of public utility plots in group ranches, uncontrolled and unsanctioned subdivision of land especially by land sellers needs to stop,” he says.
Persaina says the county will reject all the pending applications for land sub-divisions.
Depletion of biological resources like swamps is also having severe impacts on humans and animals.
WHY NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK
The only Wildlife park in the world that is so close to the city
Black rhinoceros :which is an endangered species
The first park to be gazetted in Kenya on December 16, 1946
Major rhino sanctuary for breeding and restocking other parks
The park is located only 7 km from Nairobi city centre.
Major wildlife attractions are the Black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffaloes, Giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, elands and diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded.