IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED GREATER SOUTHERN BYPASS FROM LUKENYA THROUGH KITENGELA-ONGATA RONGAI TO NGONG
1. By cutting of the Nairobi Parks lifeline, the greater ecosystem, this bypass will effectively destroy the Nairobi National Park. The Nairobi National Park was the first to be established in Kenya, and is world renowned and one of Nairobi’s greatest assets. The park makes Nairobi unique among all the world’s capital cities. It is visited by tens of thousands of international and domestic visitors each year; generates over US $500,000 annually in fees, and with its adjoining Nairobi Safari Walk, is the most important environmental education facility in Kenya.
2. The bypass will sever the migration routes of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, Cokes hartebeest, eland, Grants gazelles, Thompson’s gazelles and many other wildlife species, including endangered cheetah and lions—all of which depend on the land south of the National Park. Nairobi Park depends on these important seasonal migrations for its survival during the dry season. The bypass as planned poses an even larger threat to Nairobi National Park than the northern Serengeti Highway would have done to Serengeti National Park, which the Kenya Government successfully petitioned to have rerouted to the south. A similar southern realignment is called for in the case of Nairobi National Park.
You can track the wildebeest movements on gnu landscapes
3. The road as proposed will reverse gains made in recent years regarding securing the wildlife dispersal area. Game counts conducted by the Friends of Nairobi National Park in May confirmed the extensive wildlife movements across the proposed bypass during this year’s wet season. The ecosystem-wide aerial count was conducted by the DRSRS and complemented by a ground count conducted by the local community. The counts also revealed that Nairobi National Park’s wildlife is still recovering from severe declines in the past decade due to the conservation efforts of conservation organizations and local commitment living in the area. The counts were financed by The African Wildlife Foundation, WildlifeDirect, the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), the local community and individual donors in order to assess the status of the wildlife and rangelands and establish the conservation needs.
4. The road as proposed will lead to acceleration of the degradation of this critical ecosystem. The Nairobi Park is already threatened by unplanned developments in the wildlife dispersal area. The bypass road would further critically endanger the park. In the just published draft Wildlife Bill (2011), Nairobi National Park Nairobi as well as the Athi-Kitengela and Kaputei Plains and Machakos ranches are listed as critically endangered areas due to impeded migration routes, land subdivision and urban sprawl. The proposed bypass road will therefore critically endanger an already severely threatened ecosystem by cutting off the migrations south of the park entirely. Satellite tracking studies conducted by the Colorado State University have confirmed that the area south of the park and in the vicinity of the proposed bypass are critical to migrations into and out of the park.
5. The road, as proposed, will lead to the subdivision of the Portland Ranch, which is a dry season haven and critical calving zone for the Athi Kapiti wildlife, including zebra, wildebeest and kongoni. The area is an integral part of the upcoming Athi Kapiti Conservancy.
6. The road as proposed will lay waste to all the conservation investments already made in this ecosystem. Many organizations have long recognized the value of the dispersal area for the Nairobi Park. They include major donors such as the World Bank, EU and USAID, as well as UNEP, government departments such as the Directorate of Resource Survey and Remote Sensing, the Kenya Wildlife Service, and international agencies such IUCN, The African Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, the International Livestock Research Institute, the East African Wildlife Society, African Conservation Centre, local NGOs including Nature Kenya, Friends of Nairobi Park and the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya. On the ground the Wildlife Foundation has worked vigorously to maintain the open ecosystem by supporting land leases in Kitengela, which effectively doubles the area of land under protection by enlisting over 350 individual community land owners in conservation.
7. The proposed road will also nullify the enormous investments made by local communities in the conservation of wildlife in the areas south of Nairobi National Park such as the Olerai conservancy and The Wildlife Foundations land lease program which engages over 350 individual community land owners. It will also severely compress the livestock pastures of the Maasai landowners, put more pressure on the remaining grassland leading to desertification, and increase conflict between wildlife and livestock.