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Human fence to keep people away from animals

BUSINESS
By | June 7th 2010

By Augustine Oduor

Form afar it looked like a swaying, green fence stretching across the grassland plains to the horizon south of Nairobi National Park.

From close range, a little girl named Tess Wairimu, four, rolled up her green sleeves, scooped wet soil with her tender fingers and, with a broad smile, placed it into a hole to plant a seedling.

With her sister, Nikita Muthoni, five, both from Lauret School in Kiambu, they were part of one of the most unique environmental conservation efforts ever to save the Nairobi National Park from degradation.

The exercise, conducted on Saturday, the World Environment Day, saw over 5,000 stakeholders and volunteers join hands to draw a human ‘green’ chain (all wore green) that stretched over seven kilometers.

It was a snaking green spectacle supervised by a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) helicopter that hovered overhead along the length of the human chain.

Some of over 5,000 people who took part in forming a seven-kilometre human chain in Nairobi National Park to raise awareness against the effects of human encroachment and start a green line marked with trees. The event marked the World Environment Day. Photos: Courtesy

The effort was the culmination of an awareness campaign led by KWS and corporate stakeholders who are keen to preserve the world’s only park in a major city.

The participants were invited through KWS sponsor companies under Kenya Association of Manufacturers. Main partners were Kenya Airways, General Motors, Sarova Group of Hotels and Sandy Vohra Foundation, among others.

 

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The human chain signified a shield round the national park against human encroachment and degradation.

The project, dubbed the Nairobi Green Line, is an ambitious effort that aims to plant 250,000 trees along a 30km and 50m wide stretch, to reclaim part of the park’s degraded habitat.

The green fence will stretch from Athi River’s Cheetah Gate to the Carnivore restaurant, costing an estimated Sh40 million.

Just as the human chain was spectacular, organisers said the tree belt will even be a more striking view.

Anoop Shah, the chairman of the Green Line committee said the park has for long faced human encroachment as result of its proximity to fast expanding city estates.

 

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"Land grabbing, human settlements at the edges of the park, industrial effluent, human and wildlife conflict, plastic litter and dumping of solid waste have exposed this rich ecosystem to massive environmental degradation," he said.

Shah said there is need for an urgent protection of the national park to preserve its inherent diversity.

"We simply can not sit and watch the park’s wildlife crying out for help while we do nothing," he said.

He said, if not mitigated, the destructive activities will reduce the country’s heritage of having a national park only ten kilometres from the country’s capital.

KWS director Julius Kipngetich said the Green Line will be another tourist attraction to the park. He said, viewed from the air, it will form a thick green belt that would provide a beautiful scenery.

"Tourists who utilise their stopover at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to enjoy the experience of Nairobi National Park will now also savour the delights of the green line," he said.

Kipngetich said efforts must be made to protect the unique wildlife sanctuary, which he termed "a priceless natural resource for Kenya" from being strangled to death by encroachers.

"We want to grow trees, not just plant seedling and forget them as others do. We will ensure every tree is maintained and taken care of to demonstrate our seriousness of drawing the green line," he said.

He encouraged corporate organisations to join any of the sponsorship categories graded as bronze, silver, gold or platinum to support the project.

"A platinum sponsor donates one million shillings and is given a kilometre to plant and maintain, he said.

Minal Vohra of Sandy Vohra Foundation said the foundation had already marked a three-kilometre stretch where it will plant 30,000 trees by June.

Vohra said the foundation has already planted 7,000 trees, adding that the foundation also hopes to maintain their stretch by watering and tending.

 

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"It will be a different beautiful three kilometre stretch. We will have a picnic site with comfortable benches and nature trails for family tours within the park," she said.

Shah said the spectacular landscape that offers an array of scenic attractions will require intensified protection n form of an electric fence. He said the sponsor corporations may soon be drawn into a project to erect an electric fence.

According to the Shah, a parallel electric fence will be erected to demarcate the green line.

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