NAIROBI, March 24 – A Kenyan court has ordered a company that is working to establish an avocado farm near the Amboseli National Park, a key wildlife and livestock habitat, to halt all its activities in the area until a lawsuit by a consortium of conservationists is heard on March 31.

Conservationists through Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) had submitted an application in the National Environmental Tribunal seeking a cease and desist order against the company, KiliAvo Fresh Limited.

Masai landowners, whose land surrounds the avocado farm, have opposed the project on the grounds that it will interfere with the movement of their livestock and that the amount of groundwater abstracted for irrigation by the KiliAvo farm will cause streams and water springs to dry up. Migrating wildlife and local communities depend on the streams and springs for survival, they said.

The tribunal ordered that all activities by KiliAvo cease until a full hearing of the lawsuit; that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) be enjoined as a party to the suit to help the tribunal to make a decision; and that KWS files a report identifying the Kimana Wildlife Corridor and state whether the KiliAvo property lies within that corridor.

The plaintiffs have quoted scientific evaluations that, they state, have found that the farm will endanger a critical habitat for elephants, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, gazelles and wildebeest, and interfere with corridors for species migrating between Amboseli, Chyulu Hills and the greater Tsavo ecosystem.