Daily Nation (Kenya)
Law required to hand Tsavo park to Taita Taveta, PS says
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 26 2019
A motorist drives through Tsavo West National Park, on Mwatate-Taveta Road in this photo taken on March 24, 2018. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP
- Tourism and Wildlife Principal Secretary Margret Mwakima said this while urging politicians in the county to leave politics out of the matter.
- The PS accused the leaders of failing to engage the right institutions on their desire to convert the park into a game reserve.
- Taita Taveta leaders, led by Governor Granton Samboja, have been pushing the national government to let the county manage the park.
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Tsavo National Park can only be reverted to Taita Taveta once parliament enacts a law to degazette it as a national resource, the government says.
Tourism and Wildlife Principal Secretary Margret Mwakima said this on Tuesday while urging politicians in the county to leave politics out of the matter.
The PS accused the leaders of failing to engage the right institutions on their desire to convert the park into a game reserve.
She noted the National Assembly is the one responsible for degazetting the expansive Tsavo which was made a national park in the late 1940s.
“If parliament passes the degazettement, we will have no choice but to respect the decision,” she explained.
Ms Mwakima further said leaders pushing the agenda were seeking political mileage by inciting residents over the issue.
“They should stop inciting locals in their quest to get votes. They should engage the right offices,” she said.
She pointed out, however, that “no politician from this county has ever presented a petition in parliament that seeks to revert the park to the county”.
“These leaders know the process but they want to play politics with this issue,” she said and asked residents to take them to task instead of following blindly.
Taita Taveta leaders, led by Governor Granton Samboja, have been pushing the national government to let the county manage the park.
They claim it occupies a huge portion of the county’s land yet residents do not benefit from it and have incurred losses as animals have strayed into the farms. Elephants, for instance, have invaded farms in Sagalla and Bughuta.
Sagalla Ward Representative Godwin Kilele said the Kenya Wildlife Service and the government have failed to address a problem that has left thousands of residents without food,
“We want the government to immediately compensate residents who lost their crops due to the invasions,” he said.
The government has received thousands of compensation claims for property, injuries and deaths. On seven out of 18 claims over deaths have been successful.
John Mlamba, former chairperson of the county’s Wildlife Compensation Committee, said there has been tension as residents do not see the value of wildlife.
“It is sad that residents suffer because of wildlife yet the government fails to compensate them for the losses they suffer,” he said.