The brown area denotes Ranch land that has been subdivided and settled. The green area denotes Ranch and community land that is open for wildlife and under conservation in varying degrees.
The 5000 acre Konza ICT Techno City land was formerly a part of a Cooperative Ranching Society known as Malili Ranch.
The 22,000 acre Malili Ranch was dissolved and sub-divided to its share holders in 7.8 acre plots, in 2006. The plots started being settled in 2007, including the ones on the area that is now the ICT center. The government then bought the 5,000 acres from the shareholders who owned the plots in that area.
This area is an open plain crossed by a seasonal flood plain and rainfall is just enough for ranching and pastoralism but not crop farming. All boreholes yield salty water which is not conducive for irrigation.
From a conservation view point the Malili land use is a catch 22 situation with two current options:
7.8 acre subsistent farming plots.
As we experienced before the advent of the Techno-city, this settlements lead to unsuccessful farming due to the climate and a marked increase in crime and poaching in the surrounding ranches with the increase of un-occupied people.
Despite this being another environmental evil in terms of pollution, it creates a socio-economic buffer between the settled area and the wildlife area, offers employment to locals who will then not resort to poaching or crime, uplifts the community economically and will provide tourists to support wildlife conservation in the area.
This is the lesser of two evils and needs stringent environmental checks to ensure negative environmental impact is minimal.
The 5,000 acres comprising the Konza Techno-City were fenced off in late January, 2012, enclosing scores of wildebeest, zebra, eland, cokes hartebeest, Thomson and grant gazelles and a few jackals, hyenas and other small game that had this as their home.
The 10 foot heavy duty chain link fence encloses the entire area except for two openings, one on the ILRI (Kapiti Estate) and Lisa Ranch & Sanctuary side to the West (400 meters) and the other in the community area to the South (1 KM).
Except for the carnivores, other animals cannot exit this fence.
There is no water source within this 5,000 acre area as the boreholes and water tanks were vandalized once the cooperative was dissolved. The few dams have silted up and dried out weeks after the rains.
The animals that have discovered the openings exit everyday into Kapiti estate, Lisa Ranch or the settled Malili Area for water. The nearest water source is 5 kms away. Some animals approximately 300 animals, mostly hartebeest, zebra, wildebeest and both Thomson and Grant gazelles in the Northern sector of the centre did not know where the exits were and are now solely reliant on water being trucked in to them.
For the rest of the animals who exit in their search for water, some have been hitting the fence and getting killed. Additionally, this flat open plains are favored pasture for the wildlife outside which on crossing the Konza main road stand by the fence looking for a way in, unfortunately, whenever sand trucks or other vehicles pass, the animals panic due to proximity and hit the fence and some of them die.
Poachers were developing a habit of chasing the animals into the fence within the ICT but KWS Machakos and Kajiado anti-poaching teams with help from (Wildlife Direct/NatGeo) Athi Kapiti Cheetah scouts have put an end to this.
Starting 31st January, KWS with the help of Action for Cheetah Kenya (ACK), Athi Kapiti Cheetah Project and FoNNaP Lion Community Project did a census of animals within the ICT and surveyed water sources. This census yielded 834 animals on the 31st of January, 498 animals on the 2nd of February and 608 animals on the 4th of February 2012.
After the surveys KWS experts decided that the animals within the fenced area will all be pushed out through the western opening once NYS Malili completes the community opening and are ready to close that opening. In the meantime the 300 or so animals that were in danger of dying of thirst are being supplied with water that is trucked into two watering sites within the ICT, coordinated by the area KWS warden Eunice Kiarie and local ranches and made available through donations by well-wishers which are being channelled through Friends of Nairobi National Park. The watering started on the 2nd of February and the troughs are re-filled every second day. (Accounts are available through FoNNaP)
The wildlife has regained condition and is amongst the best watered animals in the region. There is a widespread water crisis in the region, affecting people, livestock and wildlife and in a few extreme areas necessitating the movement of livestock to other areas.
On the 4th of February; coordinated by KWS, National Youth Service, Administration Police personnel from the ICT and Action for Cheetah Kenya; volunteers from FoNNaP, Kenyans for Wildlife and Nairobi University and community members started tying bottles on the fence-line to dissuade animals from colliding with it. These are empty water bottles that are tied in pairs to make a rattle and create visibility of the fence (8 bottles per every 10 feet).
To date, almost 4 Kms have been completed in two affected areas. Every other weekend volunteers continue to tie bottles onto the fence. This has noticeably helped stop animals from hitting the fence and we have only lost one hartebeest to the fence since. These bottles will be removed in 4—6 months and disposed off well by recycling.
We wish to thank;
- the area warden Eunice Kiarie for her coordination and leadership,
- KWS (Southern Conservation Area),
- National Youth Service (Malili) and Administration Police in charge ICT-Malili
- all ‘fence bottling’ volunteers and to mention a few; Dipen Chudasama for availing 50,000 bottles, Salim Umar for transport and motivation, Deepak Sankreacha for coordinating and many more whose help was invaluable in the fence project.
- Rex Dobie, Nairobi Tented Camp, Anne Smith, Stephanie Jaeger, Paula Kahumbu, Prof. Mbithi and an anonymous donor for their financial contributions
- Kapiti Estate(ILRI) for the continued use of their water bowser,
- Lisa ranch for the continued provision of water and use of their tractor to tow the water bowser,
- Mary Wykstra and her Action for Cheetah Kenya team(ACK) for designing and coordinating the fence bottling effort and assisting in counts and surveys,
- the FoNNaP Lion Community Project for assisting in counts
- and the Athi Kapiti Cheetah Project for assisting in counts and continually monitoring the area together with KWS Konza Outpost personnel.