Governor Fatuma Achani, CS Alfred Mutua differ over marine park project

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Dr Alfred Mutua (centre) with coast governors, from left, Issa Timamy (Lamu), Fatuma Achani (Kwale), and Kilifi's Gideon Mung'aro. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua and Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani have differed over the proposed establishment of Chale Island as a marine park. 

This comes after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) recovered the Island from private developers who had irregularly acquired it. 

Ms Achani insisted that stakeholders must be consulted and consensus reached on the marine park site and the area to be reserved for the fisher folk. 

"I want dialogue to be extended to fishermen before turning Chale Island into a marine park. We cannot allow the Kwale coastline from Tiwi, Diani to Chale to be turned into a marine park as it will restrict fishermen from their fishing ground and deny fishermen their livelihood," she said. 

But Dr Mutua said that the government had already initiated plans to extend the Diani marine park to Chale Island. 

The CS and governor were speaking during World Wildlife Day celebrations at Shimba Hills National Reserve in Kwale County on Monday. 

During the celebrations, Mutua launched the Sable Antelope Recovery and Action Plan, Kenya 2024-2034, aimed at increasing the sable population in Kenya, with Kwale being the only home to the rare antelope species. 

Issues that came up during the event were resolving human-wildlife conflict in Kwale, boosting tourism, maintaining good relations between Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the community, and how the county will directly benefit from the revenue generated from tourism activities in parks and reserves. 

Mutua and Achani however agreed that KWS will work with the county government to construct dams and water pans in areas affected by human-wildlife conflict. 

The CS emphasised the need to commission the Diani-Chale Marine National Reserve and the protection of the endangered sable antelopes in the county. 

"I highlighted the increasing trend of devolving conservation efforts to local communities in wildlife-rich areas, aiming to involve them in preserving their natural surroundings," he said. 

"Key events during the celebrations included the launch of the sable antelope action plan (2022-2031) and the commissioning of the Diani-Chale Marine National Reserve," Mutua wrote in his social media platform after the celebrations. 

He noted that the sable antelope population face threats such as poaching and predation, leading to a significant reduction in numbers.

The CS said mitigation measures will include improving electric fences, constructing dams, creating awareness and restocking herbivores to reduce predation.