June 20, 2014, the long-awaited decision by the East African Court of Justice, on the status of building a 53 km road across the Serengeti is finally in. Judgement-Ref.-No.9-of-2010-Final
The East African Court rules the roadway built to bitumen standard (asphalt on top gravel and sand) across the Serengeti National Park is unlawful and infringes on the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, Articles 1 and 3.
The Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), with funding from Serengeti Watch and others, successfully argued that building the road would do irreversible harm to this “World Heritage Property” of “outstanding Universal value” as described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
This is a big win for environmentalist and the conservation movement in Africa. The court was careful to balance the decision by adding that it did not want to block the development programs of Partner States to its jurisdictional powers. Economic development will move forward and it is encouraged in all of East Africa. This question was one of protecting the environment, the animals, and migration patterns of the hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra and the like, from irreversible harm in the face of human expansion. Balancing commerce with conservation will always be a difficult battle.
This is a defining moment for saving an important part of the ecosystem in East Africa. Congratulations to ANAW, Serengeti Watch, and all those concerned for keeping a few places in the world majestic and untouched.
As we end 2013 an important meeting has concluded among Kenya’s leaders committed to curbing wildlife crime, especially poaching. The meeting took place at Amboseli National Park on December 20. John Mbaria, communications expert for the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) reports 76 participants attended representing the Judiciary, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Police, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Ministry of Environment, Water & Natural Resources, Ford Foundation, Kenya Tourist Board, Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association, Lusaka Task Force, Interpol, Office of Director of Public Prosecution, South African Embassy, U.S. Embassy, Kenyans United Against Poaching and several local and international conservation NGO’s including Lewis & Clark’s College of Law of the U.S. of A.
The meeting was remarkable in that for the second time this year, the first was with Wildlife Direct and KWS officials, Kenya’s leadership is demonstrating a way forward to stop elephant and rhino poaching. The meeting brought renewed focus to the mutual priorities between government, the judiciary and economic interests to respond to well planned criminal activities that go beyond the national borders of Kenya. Poaching finances terrorism. Big rewards are paid to the end producers, the crooks selling illicit ivory and rhino horn. It was reported at this meeting that the street price for rhino horn per kilo has reached $65,000 U.S. about 5.5 million Kenya Shillings, A full grown rhino horn can weigh as much as seven kilos. Yet, the conviction and fines imposed on poachers did not exceed 40,000 Kenya Shillings, about $500 U.S.
The meeting concluded with several pages of agreed upon action steps that will be pursued by the various governmental agencies and conservation groups immediately. It is too early to boast of success but the meeting was a powerful show of the countries resolve to do something to effectively address wildlife crime.