Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Environment Day Celebration - Tree Planting at Nairobi National Park Twiga Gate 5.6.10

Nairobi National Park Background;
The Nairobi National Park was the first park to be gazetted in 1946. This was done in order to curb the then poaching problem. It is Kenya’s and East Africa’s oldest crown. It is famed for the world famous endangered Black Rhino population. The other major wildlife attractions found in the world only “city neibouring park” include; the lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, elands, and a diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded. Other beautiful and memorable attractions include the Ivory Burning Site Monument, the Nairobi Safari Walk, the Animal Orphanage and the beautiful nature walking trails at the Hippo Pools. There is also the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust situated at the Nairobi National Park Workshop Gate along Magadi Road.

The Event;

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in conjunction with the Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) and other like-minded partners including, NGOs’ Youth Groups, Church Organizations, Government Agencies etc, embarked on a tree planting exercise at the Nairobi National Park on Saturday June 5, 2010. Cosmos Education Kenya was among the tens of organizations that graced the occasion. The event coincided with the World Environment Day which was being celebrated. The KWS seized the opportunity and held the tree planting session as part of an ongoing conservation initiative dubbed the “Nairobi GreenLine Project”.

These are some of the advertisement placards used to sensitize the public about the event;

The Sh35 million project aims to plant 250,000 trees of indigenous species from the park’s Cheetah Gate in Athi River to the Carnivore Restaurant along Lang’ata Road. This will create a 30-km long, 50-metre wide forest to shield the park from the fast-growing metropolis. The event successfully culminated in the formation of a 3500, 7Km strong human greenline chain stretching along the park’s edge from the Twiga Public Campsite Gate.

The Twiga Public campsite Signpost

The park’s delicate ecosystem has over the years been exposed to massive environmental risks due to human settlements and other activities. This in turn has increased the human wildlife conflict over the years. The animal migration corridors have been encroached making it difficult for animals to migrate from the park to the lower legion parks especially the Maasai Mara, Tsavo West and Serengeti in search for food, water and breeding. This has resulted to herbivores grazing at flower gardens in the nearby homes while lions have been spotted prowling the nearby settlements like the Onkata Lonkai and Kiserian. Tens of goats and several heads of cattle have been mauled by the jungle kings as well as the ever elusive leopards.

The 3500 strong human, 7Km Greenline chain

In order to put a stop to the above fatalities, there is a need to come-up with an effective strategy to protect the parks’ ecosystem, which provides the country with lots of economic and social benefits. In this regard, money will be needed to cover the cost of trenching, soil preparation, fencing, sinking of boreholes, piping, planting of more tree nurseries, seedlings irrigation, seedling transportation and any other manual labour. The fencing will deter the locals from grazing into the conservation area hence protecting their animals from the carnivores and giving the seedlings a good chance to grow well and healthy. More encroachment in form of illegal structures and dumping will be terminated forthwith.

Some of the environment conservation enthusiasts’ get their hands dirty during the tree planting event;

As the event went on, the Forestry and Wildlife Assistant Minister, Hon. Josphat Nanok, thanked the various partners for taking a leading role in an initiative that will be vital in managing and conserving our environment. He cited the effects of climate change as a major challenge which is are here with us and, therefore protecting our environment for future generations is vital.

Some of the “ready” tree seedlings in the nursery at the park

At the same time, the KWS Director, Dr Julius Kipng’etich, said rising incidents of pollution to the park, human encroachment and human-wildlife conflict will soon be a thing of the past with the launch of the GreenLine project. He added that the organization intends to make the park a major tourist attraction by allowing travelers on transit to visit the park as they await connection flights. Luckily, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is just a stone throw away from the park. This makes it easier for the travelers to enter the park, tour and then get back to the airport well in time for their freights. This he said, will enable the organization to raise more funds that will be used to implement more animal friendly projects in line with the vibrant conservation efforts by KWS and partners.

The electric fence that will restrict more human encroatchment

Speaking at the event, the GreenLine Steering Committee Chairman, Mr. Anoop Shah lauded the various partners, volunteers and stakeholders for their unreserved support in making this project a success. He added “The drawing of this line symbolizes the start of a long journey expected to go a long way in protecting and conserving this vital ecosystem for posterity“. Water will gradually increase in the watering holes and dams while the streams in the park will also experience some increase. Animals will not have to stray out of the park in search of water due to the availability. This will reduce the number of animal deaths and in turn increase their population. The elands’ population has been in the decrease over the years due to lack of enough pasture. The dry weather condition that had rocked the park in the last 2 years dealt a big blow to many herbivores.

The media personnel conducted some “on-site” interviews at the event

As the event came to a close, over 5000 seedlings of different indigenous tree species were successfully planted. The nurturing of the newly planted seedlings will be done by a special team that will monitor their growth and well being on daily basis. More planting sessions will be held as soon as the short rains season starts in late September.

Kanja (right) with Mr. Lagat of ESACO environmental Group and Ms Sharon Lucas of Standard Newspapers limited pose for a photo after the planting event.

Cosmos Education Kenya will be among the teams which will be continuing with the planting sessions. Other planting sessions will be held in various parts of the country. Public places slated for vigorous tree planting events include, Ngong Forest, Karura Forest, the Nairobi Arboretum, the Resurrection Garden, Uhuru Gardens etc. Other places include the schools, road reserves, and along the river banks. Planting is also taking place in all the provinces and the local level, in line to recover the lost forest cover. The effects of the global warming is also another thing that is driving the vigorous planting.

My friend......plant plant plant… starts with you and its better done today…… NOW..!