Coral reefs of Kenya tell sad story of British colonialism

Malindi Marine Park coral

From the New Scientist:

Coral holds record of Kenya’s past

* 10 March 2007

* From New Scientist Print Edition.

THE history of British colonial exploitation has left its mark on Kenya’s coral.

Using samples taken from the Malindi coral reef near the mouth of the Sabaki river, Dominik Fleitmann of the University of Bern in Switzerland and colleagues have constructed a record of soil erosion over the past 300 years.

The river drains more than 10 per cent of the country’s fertile lands.

The team analysed seasonal growth bands in coral skeletons to reveal fluctuations in barium, which is abundant in sediments washed off the land.

The results showed that after two centuries of relative stability, soil erosion increased dramatically from the beginning of the 20th century (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2006GL028525).

Fleitmann attributes the erosion to British colonisation of the region, which began around the turn of the 20th century.

The erosion accelerated through the 1940s and continues to this day.

It has set the region on the road to disaster, Fleitmann says.

“Eighty per cent of people in Kenya work in the agrarian sector,” he says. “If the soil is gone, the people will have nothing. What will they even eat?”

See also here.

Sea Urchins Destroy Reef Building Algae in Overfished Sites on Kenya’s Coast: here.

Kenyan cultural heritage patented by multinational corporations: here.

Irresponsible tourism in Kenya: here.

WWF applauds new marine conservation push in coastal East Africa: here.

7 thoughts on “Coral reefs of Kenya tell sad story of British colonialism

  1. Kenya: Country Adds Birds to Tourist Attractions

    East African (Nairobi)

    3 July 2007
    Posted to the web 3 July 2007

    Philip Ngunjiri

    The Tourism Trust Fund (TTF) has launched a Ksh19.7 million ($294,000) bird tourism project to market Kenya’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs).

    The project, to be implemented by Nature Kenya, will target three well-known IBAs – Dunga papyrus wetlands, Kinangop Plateau Grasslands, and Kakamega Forest.

    “All these areas are ripe for tourism development,” TTF chief executive officer, Dan Kagagi, said.

    Dr Kagagi said the project will be achieved through a global marketing campaign, development of IBAs, development of a bird guides’ curriculum and training.

    “The global market and demand for avi-tourism are enormous. This product development and niche marketing of an under-exploited resource, will promote little known areas to a large and high value market of specialised tourists” said Dr Kagagi.

    Kenya’s 60 IBAs are located in both well established tourist circuits and little visited areas of the country.

    The potential for revenue is vast. According to Bird International, Worldwide, there are about seven million birdwatchers going in birdwatching trips abroad per annum, spending over $7 billion in the countries they visit.

    According to Nature Kenya, current visits by keen bird watchers are as low as only 250 per year. Increasing this number is obviously beneficial in revenue terms, but also in terms of visitor patterns.

    Birdwatchers are driven to see the highest number of birds of any region or country they are visiting. This means they are more likely to visit places outside the usual tourist circuits at periods that are not necessarily dictated by tourism seasons, but rather by bird migration patterns and breeding seasons.

    During the global International Bird Watching Days – which measure total bird life seen on a single day across the planet – Kenya is ranked consistently as having among the highest volume of total species sighted in the world. There are about 1100 species of birds in Kenya, including some 24 threatened or rare species of which 12 are considered globally threatened.

    Meanwhile, TTF is hosting Kenya’s second E-tourism conference this week. This follows last year’s highly successful e-tourism conference in Nairobi, which was the first of its kind in Africa, raising awareness among the tourism, communication and finance sectors of the great opportunities now available through on-line tourism, and the risk of Kenya’s tourism sector falling into a digital divide between the developing and developed world.

    The two-day event will feature presentations on new technologies, opportunities and guidance in moving towards e-tourism.

    According to Dr Kagagi, last year’s event served as a wake-up call to the industry, and made many people aware of the risk of not investing in technology and moving into the global online market. During this week’s event, a special regional session is planned with East African representatives to discuss ways of working together online to attract traffic to single online destination.

    There will be a presentation from the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) on the 2010 initiative, a new tourism portal for Africa being developed to be used for booking travel and tickets for the World Cup in South Africa. A new awards scheme for information and communication technology achievement in East Africa will also be launched at the conference.

    The conference is in line with TTF’s mission to provide direct support and assistance to local stakeholders, with practical sessions on web development, online financial management and security systems for avoiding fraud and securing your business online.

    The major role of the TTF is to fund the Kenya Tourist Board’s international marketing programme and to fund new tourism projects that will offer visitors a new experience in Kenya, while at the same time conserving the environment. To date, it has funded 33 projects worth Ksh294 million ($4.4 million) and contributed Ksh645 million ($9.6 million) to KTB for its international marketing programmes.


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