Nairobi, April 27 – An agribusiness firm in Kenyan has failed in its attempt to have a court revoke an official order barring it from establishing an avocado farm in a wildlife corridor that connects the Amboseli National Park to the Chyulu Hills and Tsavo West National Parks.
The National Environment Tribunal on April 26 today dismissed the lawsuit by the company, KiliAvo Fresh Ltd, seeking to overturn an order by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to halt the implementation of the farming project.
Conservation organisations and the public initiated a campaign to save the Amboseli National Park from encroachment by the Kenyan farming company. Those protesting included the Amboseli Land Owners and Conservation Association, WildlifeDirect, Big Life Foundation, and the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK).
KiliAvo had last year fenced off 180 acres of the wildlife migration corridor and began clearing the land for farming.
During the hearing of the case, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) testified that the area that the KiliAvo was establishing the avocado farming operation was right inside the wildlife corridor, contradicting the company’s assertion that the area was far away from the corridor and that wildlife would not be affected.
“The KiliAvo avocado farm is in an ecologically sensitive zone which will cause an ecological catastrophe for communities, water, wildlife, and climate,” said WildlifeDirect CEO Paula Kahumbu. “It should never have been permitted by the County NEMA office as it contravenes policies, regulations, and the rights to a clean and healthy environment for the pastoralists who occupy this land. Wildlife creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in the tourism sector and pastoralism is an important cultural practice and is a key source of food security in the nation.
“This avocado farm threatens not only these livelihoods but also the Amboseli National Park, which is one of the premier parks in the nation. This ruling has sent an unmistakable message to all developers who are eyeing wilderness lands as a free-for-all. Hands Off Our Wildlife and Our Wilderness,” she added.
Conservationists and landowners are now calling on NEMA to cancel the licence it had issued to KiliAvo.