Nairobi, Feb 12 – A Kenyan court has declined to issue orders to stop the staging of a two-day music festival in the country’s Hell’s Gate National Park, arguing that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction over the matter.

Conservation charity WildlifeDirect had petitioned the court in an effort to force the Kenya Wildlife Service and the organisers of the Koroga Festival, a cultural extravaganza, to stop their plans to hold the event at the park on February 14-15.

In his ruling, Judge J. Mutungi of the Environment and Land Court in the town of Nakuru, stated that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

“Success is not winning a court case,” said Paula Kahumbu, Chief Executive Officer at WildlifeDirect. “Success is thriving wildlife. It is a very sad day for Kenya and lovers of wildlife that the agency responsible for the conservation of wildlife has accepted Ksh 700,000 ($7000) despite the fact that the event imperils critically endangered species in an already degraded park.”

WildlifeDirect said it had petitioned the court in the public interest, adding that it had launched an Environmental Justice Desk at its office to support environmental advocacy and citizen action by providing legal support.

Hell’s Gate is an Important Bird Area of international significance. It is home to a breeding colony of Critically Endangered Ruppell’s vultures and is used by many other threatened birds of prey, including eagles, falcons, hawks, buzzards, and owls.

In its petition, WildlifeDirect stressed that holding the Koroga Festival in the park will go against the basic purpose of national parks, which are intended as spaces for the protection and tranquil enjoyment of the natural environment.