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Environment PS Margaret Mwakima against bill allowing grazing in parks

COAST
By Renson Mnyamwezi | April 12th 2016
PS Margaret Mwakima

 

VOI: A principal secretary has opposed plans by a section of MPs to formulate a bill to legalise grazing in national parks.

Environment and Natural Resources PS Margaret Mwakima said some politicians, whom she did not name, were preparing a bill that would pave way for national parks to be used for grazing livestock.

Without giving details, the PS urged Kenyans and conservationists to reject the bill.

Addressing wildlife stakeholders at the Voi Safari Lodge in Taita-Taveta County yesterday, Dr Mwakima said the proponents of the bill had been holding consultative meetings in Mombasa to mobilise Kenyans to support their initiative.

Present at the function were Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu, Governor John Mruttu, MPs Joyce Wanjala Lay (Woman Representative, Jones Mlollwa (Voi), Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate) and County Commissioner Oningoi Ole Sosio, among other senior county and national government officials.

The proposed bill comes at a time when the Tsavo ecosystem has been experiencing a high influx of livestock from outside the county, including in the neighbouring country.

Mr Mwadime opposed the proposed bill, saying he would mobilise other legislators to reject it.

"If the bill is going to allow only the county residents to graze in the Tsavo, then I will support it," said the ODM legislator.

Earlier, the legislators called for the immediate degazettement of the Tsavo West National Park, claiming it was no longer a conservation area but a ranch where livestock graze freely.

Mr Mlolwa and Ms Lay said the heavy presence of livestock in the protected area had interfered with the wildlife habitat thereby forcing wild animals to invade people's settlement.

Mr Mruttu said the region was facing unprecedented levels of wildlife conflict, noting that elephants were roaming freely even within a kilometre from Voi town centre.

Assistant Director for Tsavo Conservation Area Robert Obrein disclosed that a total of 264 illegal grazers had so far been arrested and prosecuted.

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