Dame Daphne Sheldrick, has asked President Kenyatta to halt the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway Project (SGR) through the Nairobi National Park claiming it “spells the end of this priceless city asset”.
In a letter to the President, the British conservationist noted that while development of the country is a priority to the people and politicians, tourists – so important the the Kenyan economy – pour in to “enjoy and appreciate Kenya’s wild places and wildlife”.
She has also said that she believes that with time, national parks will play a bigger role than anticipated in the health and wellbeing of the human population.
“Reconsider and dismiss any suggestion that will destroy this precious asset before it is too late, particularly as there are viable alternatives to this proposed route through the park.
“The world, Kenya and future generations will be forever grateful to you, Mr President, for averting the destruction of this irreplaceable critical national asset which makes Nairobi especially unique.”
– Daphne Sheldrick
She also highlighted the risk of terminal lung-related diseases which result from smog, which she said will soon cloud the atmosphere and reduce visibility.
“I feel sure the current government does not want to be like Beijing,” she said on Wednesday of the country whose capital has been hit by bouts of choking smog this winter.
“The park acts as the lungs of Nairobi, distilling its polluted air.” – Daphne Sheldrick
Nairobi National Park is the oldest park in Eastern Africa and is the only wildlife park within a capital city. It is home to over 40 wild lions, is a
globally important rhino sanctuary, has hundreds of giraffe, buffalo and over
1,500 species of birds.
In July, 2015, The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the National Lands Commission gave permission for Kenya Railways to realign the railway into the park last July.
More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the construction, calling for the President to stop the realignment covering an 11.6-km stretch.
The route change affects 216 acres of park land, and comes after it was established there was no money to compensate high-value properties which would have been impacted by the earlier route.
However, the description in the petition claims the change of plan is due to one American resident whose home would be affected.
Residents and conservationists in Karen and Dagoretti have claimed the SGR will interfere with their properties while Friends of Nairobi National Park and Wildlife Direct have called for more information on the project saying there has been poor public participation and the non- disclosure of information.