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City Hall can be sued for pruning trees, disturbing marabou storks

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 Marabou Storks in Nairobi CBD. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The move by Nairobi county government to cut down trees in the city centre in an attempt to get rid of Marabou storks could be challenged in court.

Lawyer Felix Matagei has warned that cutting down the trees and disturbing the birds is against the law.

“The birds are indigenous and are protected by the law. The move can be challenged in the Environmental Court for guidance,” Matagei says.

“The County ought to have sought a court order explaining the move and where to relocate the birds,” he added.

The trees were cut down by the county along Kenyatta Avenue after some residents and motorists complained that the birds perched on the trees soiled their clothes and parked vehicles with their droppings.

However, the move to prune the trees caused an uproar that caught the attention of Governor Johnson Sakaja.

 “I have been assured that the pruning done after the outcry by pedestrians due to the recent marabou stork’s invasion was procedural and that the tree shall be nurtured,” Sakaja tweeted.

“Again I reiterate; we will increase our tree cover in the city. I was upset as you all but the tree will grow,” he added.

Some conservationists faulted the move saying that the trees that were chopped off are ornamental and could take decades to replace them.

Paul Gacheru, a conservationist, said trees are important in the city because they help in reducing temperatures much more than artificial shades.

He said marabou storks are scavengers that hunt and eat dead material, and because of the changing environment the birds had relocated to dump sites but are still searching for places to nest. According to the conservationist, it’s high time humans decide how to adapt because cutting down trees is a reactionary measure which is not helpful.

“The birds could go but how long will it take for the tree to grow? Birds are doing their natural thing of living, does it mean we will cut all trees in Nairobi because of birds?” posed Gacheru. 

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