Yale Alumni at Konza

ACK Mary's picture
Sun, 2012-05-27 10:18 by ACK Mary · Forum/category:
Yale Day of Service Little helpers bring bottles to the team Cosmas and Pius on Yale Day of Service Kongoni that tried to jump over bottles

The Association of Yale Alumni selected 12 May and the “Yale Day of Service” throughout the world. At a get-together in April I proposed the bottling at the Konza ICT as the target project. The Kenyan based alumni showed huge support with ten people arriving at about 9AM and staying through 4PM. It was not only a blessing to have my fellow alumni assist in the project but it was also great fun getting to know them.

The rest of the team coming to help on that day were Salim and Shahnaz Ahmed and family, Thalia Periera, ACK staff and volunteers (Cosmas, Pius, Jimmy Reinier and I), Athi-Kapiti Cheetah Project team (Michael, Kalinge) and several young community members.

On a sad note however, after the rest of the team left the area, we were the last to leave. Near the end of the Konza road we saw a kongoni lying along the fence. It was paralyzed, only moving its head. We called KWS to report the incident and put the animal out of its misery. A close look at the point of impact showed us that the kongoni had attempted to leap over the row of bottles. This was the second kongoni to die against the fence in as many days. Although I know the bottles have saved hundreds of lives, I felt sick as I saw this animal lying on the ground. Now what?

Last month, shortly after the KWS capture team successfully drove hundreds of animals out of the 5000 acre enclosure I had received word that some poachers had cut an opening in the fence. They tied snares in the opening killing several head of game then left the opening allowing over 100 animals to get back into the enclosure. It felt like all of our efforts had been in vain. Current rains make the grass and water sufficient, but in another month or two these animals will all need to be removed.

Along the bottom of the fence there are areas where zebra and gazelle have pushed through weak points. This has allowed animals in and out as well. I am beginning to think that it will be impossible to keep the animals from the area until the time when they are all eliminated… this will be after the high rise buldings, high-end apartments, hospital and university replaces the golden savanna and after the mabati structures that now make up Malili Town are replaced with brick and mortar. If this is the direction of Kenya… we are indeed monitoring the extinction of the cheetah… and many other species. But what are the solutions in the meantime and can we assist these animals in a secure alternative to the Konza ICT area?

I want to thank those people who have assisted in efforts to reduce the impact of the ICT. I know that the KWS officials in the area are equally as frustrated. The crops planted people living around the ICT are growing in the current rains, but +/- 800 animals moved out of the ICT are now also in search of new grazing areas. The predators that hunted the young and weak in the Malili plains now need to look elsewhere for food. The displaced animals that want to return to their range continue to seek a means of access to the grazing area. What considerations should be made in the environmental impact assessments for the future developments of Kenya? Will we be able to take the lessons learned here and apply means of sustainable development in other areas?

Kenya’s Vision 2030 has set high standards of development. New highways, airports, the ICT park, conference centers, ports… this development is needed for the country to move forward, but it will have devastating effects in some areas. I call upon those reading this to look carefully at the issues arising and to join hands in finding viable solutions to Kenya’s development. Where there is a problem, help identify solutions. I commend the efforts of those involved in the Nairobi National Park Highway, they saw a problem, identified alternatives and are working to make a viable change that will both serve the needs of Nairobi and the future of the Park and its wildlife. I am grateful for the collaborative efforts of KWS, Athi-Kapiti Cheetah Project, Action for Cheetahs in Kenya and those who have assisted in bottles, game drives, water provisions and fence monitoring. If anyone has other ideas on how to assist in minimizing the impacts of the ICT, please contact stakeholders and lets look at options to improve the current conditions for the animals and the surrounding communities.