British soldiers endanger Kenyan wildlife

From the Daily Nation in Kenya:

Kenya: Laikipia Ranchers Protest Over British Troops

7 September 2009

Nairobi — A wildlife conservationists and ranchers’ forum is protesting the presence of British troops on local ranches.

Laikipia Wildlife Forum has called for discussions, following complaints over increased incursions by the British army troops into local private ranches during their training.

The forum says the soldiers’ presence in the area could be detrimental to the fragile ecosystem that supports hundreds of wild animals and tourism.

In a note to all members, LWF’s Uaso Narok Community Liason Officer Dr Max Graham said the units, each comprising about 900 men had increased from three units in 2008 to seven this year and were allowed by individual ranchers to use their facility without consultation with neighbouring ranchers.

“We employ 6,500 people who directly earn Sh228 million; another Sh15.5 billion is earned as revenue from tourism and we contribute a further Sh608 million towards community development projects and conservation annually. We should be cautious as we might be hurting an industry that we have painstakingly built,” he said.

Dr Graham said there was need for a joint approach to the UK army issue to ensure that ranchers are consulted before allowing them into their farms adding that the army’s activities could be hurting neighbouring farms.

Laikipia is recognised as a wildlife resource where some wildlife species found here are globally endangered. The noise and light pollution (helicopters, live firing, night exercises among others greatly conflict with Laikipia’s unique brand of wilderness-based tourism that has taken billions of shillings and decades to create,” he added.

The UK army men incursions have increased due to the country’s military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have chosen Laikipia due to its climatic conditions found to be similar to those in the identified countries.

The Three Sisters Caves along Kenya’s coast house bat guano knee-deep in some places. The ground skitters with cockroaches and whip spiders the size of a human hand. A frog corpse one morning could be picked clean by the afternoon: here.

3 thoughts on “British soldiers endanger Kenyan wildlife

  1. Wildlife At Risk As Firms Scramble for Nairobi Game Park

    Fred Mukinda

    25 October 2009

    Nairobi — Private companies and individuals are gradually encroaching on the Nairobi National Park, threatening the only wildlife habitat close to the city. A section of the park’s 11,700 hectares of land has already been surveyed and the process to issue a title deed to 60 plots has already started.

    Investigations have revealed that the 60 acres (24.28 hectares) would be subdivided into plots and sold off to developers. A similar attempt several years back was blocked by the Lands ministry. In the latest scheme, a deed plan, the legal document prepared before the title deed is issued, has been approved through a signature by the Director of Survey.

    The document seen by the Daily Nation shows Deed Plan 299429, for the parcel LR No 28197 was signed on July 24. The action aroused suspicion because initial legal steps that must be followed before the land ownership document is processed were overlooked.

    Fast track the process

    According to an allotment letter obtained, certified and duly signed by Lands ministry officials as a “true copy of the original,” the park’s land was allocated in 1999 in a lease agreement. But upon scrutiny, the letter was found to describe a plot in Kasarani area, while it purported to represent the park’s land in Embakasi off Mombasa road.

    This shows how the process was carried out in a clandestine manner to ensure those allocated the public land remain unknown. The Nation has also established that a city-based lawyer, specifically acting for the allottees, has been visiting the Lands ministry to have the title deed issuing process fast tracked.

    Kenya Wildlife Service, the legal trustee for the park, holds the title deed of the vast land. KWS deputy director Tom Sipul said they would take all measures possible to protect the land from grabbers. The Nation saw the park’s title deed, and its deed plan confirming that the part being excised is entirely within the park.

    “It’s unimaginable to come up with a deed plan on top of another. There’s no way surveying on a piece of land should be allowed without the authority of the incumbent owners. KWS board of trustees didn’t (give consent),” he said. “This is a fraudulent process. It’s not being done according to procedure and we cannot allow anybody to take any part of the park. A national park can only be degazzetted by parliament,” he added.

    While the individuals have been struggling to “legalise” the deal through government offices, another group, claiming to represent squatters, has been fighting on the ground to take possession. It is not clear whether the two groups are linked, but it has been alleged that the “squatters” may be acting at the behest of the powerful and wealthy individuals, who will eventually get the title deeds.

    The Nation spoke to two senior KWS officials who said they had received death threats from the alleged squatters, for opposing the park’s allocation. KWS responded by deploying armed guards at the grounds and demolished an office that had been erected there. As a result, the “squatters” uprooted beacons that had been erected by the wildlife service around the piece of land.

    But KWS is partly to blame for the mess. While a fence was erected in 1986 around the park, the 60-acre piece off Mombasa road was left out, making it an easy prey for land grabbers. The park’s senior warden Michael Wanjau and KWS assistant director in-charge of parks and reserves Michael Kipkeu could not explain why a part of the park was left out while the rest was fenced.

    But according to Mr Sipul, the wildlife service then did not have professional surveyors: “We can’t blame those who did the fencing because they were not guided by surveyors.” He further questioned the issuance of legal documents for the land without their knowledge. “A deed plan is an extraction of information from a survey plan. How the survey was approved is questionable,” said Mr Sipul.

    He further said that Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission officials had visited KWS and interviewed several senior officials. Kacc however decline to comment citing an “ongoing investigation.”

    Breaking the law

    We also learnt that the probe had been extended to senior officers at the Lands ministry. Our attempts to talk Lands Permanent Secretary Dorothy Angote and Commissioner for Lands Zablon Mabeya were unsuccessful. The two were either said to be out of office or held up in meetings, with their secretaries taking our queries, and telephone numbers, with promises their bosses would call back.

    Mr Wanjau, said he was not aware about a process to issue a title deed besides the skirmishes pitting warders and the alleged squatters. “Nobody has the authority. Unlike Forests, ministers have no power to degazette a national park and so it would be very difficult. That would be breaking the law,” he added.

    But the Nation also learnt that a senior manager at KWS has all along been privy to the allocation. He is said to have turned a blind eye to the illegal activity after being cajoled by powerful forces pushing for the excision of the park’s land. The matter has come up at a time Lands minister James Orengo said the government lacked the mechanism to repossess land stolen from the government, especially if it had been developed.

    In the event a title deed is issued, it complicates further the process, because the government would be required to go to court and file for asset recovery in which it would be required to prove ownership. The government would also be required to pay some amount before repossessing such land.


  2. New Vision (Kampala)

    Uganda: Oil Workers Kill Remaining Male Reedbuck in Kabwoya

    Gerald Tenywa

    11 January 2010

    Kampala — THE only male reedbuck, a type of antelope, which is at risk of extinction in Kabwoya wildlife reserve, has been killed.

    According to Honey Malinga, the commissioner for oil petroleum in the energy ministry, workers of Busitema Mining Services, a company contracted by Tullow Oil, killed the reedbuck recently.

    He said six workers had been arrested and remanded at Hoima Police Station over the incident.

    “We are concerned about the issue of poaching and it is good that the suspects have been arrested,” Malinga said. “There is a lot of goodwill from the parties working on oil, but the poaching of animals cannot be ignored.”

    In a separate interview, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) director, Moses Mapesa, said the male reedbuck was relocated from Lake Mburo National Park to help the four females breed.

    “The survival of the reedbuck was in the male that was killed,” said Mapesa.

    “Poaching of the only male has taken us many steps backwards.”

    He said the authority would take drastic measures to check poaching.

    “We will not allow oil workers to camp in the protected areas because they engage in poaching.”

    “This case is part of the evidence that they have been poaching,” Mapesa said.

    Although Tullow Oil is prepared to translocate another male reedbuck as a replacement, wildlife managers and the community say this is not enough because the workers have been killing other animals.

    Kabwoya wildlife reserve, which is one of the most ecologically rich areas in Africa, covers 200 square kilometres in the Albertine rift valley.

    The increasing trade in game meat and the expanding human population is destroying most of the protected areas and leading to the extinction of some animal species.

    The wildlife authority, Hoima district council and a local investor started restocking the reserve by bringing back some of the animals that had been declared extinct.

    In addition to the male reedbuck from Lake Mburo National Park, the Jackson’s heetbeast and waterbucks were relocated from Murchison Falls National Park in December 2007.


  3. Pingback: Britain’s wars make veterans with PTSD | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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