By Wolfgang H. Thome
Dan Mwazo, former and failed tourism minister and now senator for Taita Taveta in Kenya, once again erred in a major way. Mwazo together with county governor Mruttu and area MPs Mwadime and Mlolwa, demanded during a visit by President Kenyatta to this part of the country that locals be allowed to mine inside the sprawling Tsavo National Park. In the same breath though, they decried that the park was being destroyed by mining companies owned by Kenyans from other parts of the country, which in their interpretation led to a migration of elephant out of the park where they were destroying crops, causing increased human-wildlife conflict.
“If a former tourism minister can stand up on the podium and be part of such nonsense utterances, I think it proves beyond [a\ doubt what issues we had with him when he was tourism minister. It was only a matter of time before his true self was to return to the public stage and he becomes part of yet more controversies. There were some legacy mines for gems inside the park for decades, and those were controversial. They could only get away with it because that part of Tsavo was traditionally less populated by game because of the dry and infertile soil, but conservationists have always had sentiments about it. It is not on the same scale as mining uranium in the Selous or mining soda ash at Lake Natron, but the principle is the same. Increased human presence, increased disturbance of the habitat, and increased settlements outside the park to house staff which [is\ in an ecologically-challenged area, only adds more destructive pressure on the environment.
“In the past, such areas were hardly inhabited, because no one could sustain farming for very long. However, the area is ideal for tourism. There are two lakes, Jipe and Chala, and there will be enough room for the game which draws tourists in if the locals stop their poaching activities. More....