How the proposed Greater Southern Bypass will affect Nairobi Park


Nairobi national Park highways

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.

Wildebeest movement tracks

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.


15 responses to “How the proposed Greater Southern Bypass will affect Nairobi Park

  1. The Nairobi Park has impeded the southward spread of the city. Today more than 70 % of the cities population lives in slums. Additionally, many more Kenyans are living in squalor in IDP camps. This population of Kenyans is either too busy or too poor to benefit from a park. Actually 90% of Nairobi’s residents care less if a park exists within its environs. The expanse land on which the park lies is a constant reminder to the slum dwellers and IDPs of the unfairness and injustice that exists within. Kenyans have traditionally coexisted, lived, worked and played among their wildlife – they did not need fences or boundaries. Those claiming to be friends of the park are actually enemies of the poor who will benefit most from the proposed road project.

    • Sorry, but you are EXTREMELY short sighted. please do some more research.
      1. Nairobi doesnt need to expand. in fact, expansion of the city is a bad thing. and if the city is expanding, si it can just expand in the other 3 remaining directions?
      2. the Park isn’t fenced on the southern boarder to allow the movement of animals and pastoralists – who by the way, depend on the park for food for their animals.
      3. the poverty of the slum dwellers and IDPs has absolutely nothing to do with the land that the National Park is situated. their poverty has its roots in uneducation, unemployment and underemployment.
      4.And just because Kenyans don’t visit the National Park doesn’t mean that they don’t benefit from it in some way. The national park is the basis for the tourism industry of Nairobi – take it away, the tourism goes as well. considering how many people are employed in that sector, isn’t taking the National Park away just creating more poverty.
      5. Also, the National parks acts as a haven for the animals from Amboseli and a few from the Serengeti during the dry season. do you know how many animals will starve and the adverse effects that would have on Amboseli? – which by the way, has almost its whole economic activity based on tourism., Kenya has soooo much land that isn’t being used by anyone where the IDPs can be relocated. WHY should they be given land that makes more money than they would probably make collectively!!? it doesn’t make economic sense. and those people who are squashed in kibera? they have the will to move in and out of the slum. personally, i believe they’d be better off living in the rural areas, where they have access to at least some fresh air, and maybe a small farm they can subsist on.

      btw, just as a side note – most Chinese have never seen or even thought of seeing the great wall of china – just because of the mentality of “oh, i can see it anytime i want.” its the same with nairobians and the Nairobi national park. so i’m guessing you’re going to say that the Chinese should break down that wall to make space for their billions?

      (sorry, i got carried away and wrote an essay)

    • Hi friend of the Nairobi Park. Yes it is true we need the money and
      economic growth. Once you get the money from tourism, what do you with it. You take care of your people. I think it is much easier to
      move the animals to other parks in the wild and give the wanchi what they need most. decongesting the city is one of the ways of making economic growth. People are wasting much needed time on the roads. Animals can be watched in the wild. It is a question of priorities. It is so beautiful, and actually romantic to have wild animals next to your palace, but is more nice to give shelter to your people, and yes, one day the chinese may do exactly that.

  2. I agree with SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE!! It’s the reality of life. Hard to face from the comfort of your mansions. And quite unfortunate. It may not be your reality but somebody somewhere has put it as it is. So don’t get irritated just because you are blind to the plight of Kenyans. We would all love to live well with tracks of nature and wildlife around us but it is not so. I challenge you conservationists to enlarge your vision so you are able to find pragmatic solutions/ideas in these less than ideal situations.

    • just said that relocating those people to national reserves and parks does not make an ounce of sense. one doesn’t need to have done economics or sociology to see all the problems doing something like that would bring. GIVING PEOPLE LAND WILL NOT SOLVE THE POVERTY PROBLEM!!! if solving the poverty was that easy, it would have been done ages ago!!

      ok, fine. so we relocate the people in kibera, kangemi, etc into the national park. so everyone has some land. then what? those people are so desperate for money, they’d probably sell it or rent it out. rumors will go out into the rural areas – ati the government is giving people land. then the next thing you know, there’ll be a huge influx of people from the rural areas into nairobi. and where will they go? – into the area that was once the national park. then we’ll get the same situation – an even bigger slum in the making – and concidering all the problems nairobi is already experiencing because of urbanization, it wouldn’t only be idiotic to do this. it would be counter productive.

      the key to stamping out poverty is development, and development isn’t just about economic growth, but also environmental sustainability, which is why conservation of the park is important. keep in mind that the largest foreign exchange earner of kenya is the tourism industry. take that away, and watch our economy begin to steadily decline, and therefore even more poverty.

  3. Why aren’t these migration areas to the south of the park being formally protected as stewardship or conservancy areas. clipping onto the main park and enjoying rights for eco-tourism opportunities? This allow some economic as well as eco-system service value to be enjoyed at the same time?

  4. being antagonistic on the blog won’t you conservationist do you propose wild life has a higher purpose than other economic activities of the country,do you purport that Kenyans / Nairobians are ignorant.for your information your response to comments on the blog will not add value join a cause or Friends of Nairobi National park and air your views there,but remember even they have to lobby.and lastly development will always take precedent over wildlife,thats just the bare truth and you must live with it.

  5. A compromise is the best solution. The modern world needs modern roads. The best way forward is to build the road as a combination of parkway and viaducts enabling wildlife to go over the top or underneath the road. Scrapping the road wont solve the problem of why it is needed in the first place. Alternatively the road could be tunnelled and that is extremely expensive

  6. Create an underpass at an identified animal corridor.,… Instead of saying no to the development, shouldn’t we be looking for ways to make it work both ways? Have a look at this,..

  7. For Starters. The land South OF Nairobi National Park is in Kajiado county and belongs to the Maasai community. Who have nothing to do with the slum dwellers of Nairobi who brought themselves from other parts of rural Kenya to congest Nairobi.
    Some of the comments here…Is Nairobi the only urban area in Kenya people can come to spoil?? The idiots talking of handing Nairobi National Park to Slum dwellers…It is clear you do not know the value of Nature Beauty and wildlife!!! Uless you belong to the Maasai or the Kikuyu, no one else has any ancestral rights over the land that is the city of Nairobi.The Maasia gave up what is today the National park.To be a National Park.Not a Slum dweller settlement scheme. If the slums are so bad, there is your ancestral home in Muranga, Siaya and Bungoma where land sizes are bigger so please, fell free to move back!!!!
    My take.How about rerouting the pathway Northwards.How about tarmacking the Greater Eastern Bypass then building a greater Northern Bypass that will connect Limuru to Kilimambogo via Juja and Githuguri.The current administration wouldnt object so much…The route would pass through Gatundu. Athough the Greater Eastern bypass passes through a wildlife area,it does not hold a high wildlife density as Kitengela Rongai area and is not a calving area.

  8. Pingback: In Kenya, Nairobi National Park Faces Development Encroachment | The Grid | Global Site Plans·


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