First they oppress indigenous
hunters by taking away their ancestral rights to hunt.
Then they offer to substitute the economic loss by bring wealthy killers from
That is neo-colonial oppression and par excellance!
hunting will transform the north
Story by WYCLIFFE MUGA /JUST A MINUTE
Publication Date: 10/8/2005
If you have travelled by bus from
Mombasa to Lamu, one of the sights that may have startled you as you traversed
Tana River District, is that of passengers alighting at some point and walking
off into one of the most desolate landscapes in the country.
On every side, as far as the eye
can see, there is nothing but empty dry plains, with hardly any trees; no road
or even a footpath in the direction in which the passenger is heading; and
indeed no sign of human habitation.
When such a passenger gets off,
you cannot help wondering: How did they know the right stop, seeing as there
are no distinguishing features to mark out this place from the miles of
similar landscape we have been travelling through for the past hours? Where
are they going, and how many kilometres away is the village?
If you have been to Tana River
District, then you are unlikely to feel sympathy for anyone from Western or
Nyanza province, complaining that their area has been neglected by the
Government, and that roads so poorly maintained, that transport is a problem.
That matatu owners have withdrawn their vehicles, and when they travel home by
public transport, they suffer the indignity of being transported for the last
few kilometres by "boda boda" cyclists.
In all this, there seems to be a
consensus that the failure to create infrastructure is one of the biggest
failings of the Kibaki administration – second only to the failure to end
grand corruption. It is common to read references in the media of the need for
the Government to "provide infrastructure so as to encourage new
But there is a fundamental
question here: Does infrastructure lead to new investment? Or does the
potential for new investment guarantee the creation of adequate infrastructure?
To understand this clearly,
consider the proposed mining of titanium in Kwale District by the Canadian
company, Tiomin Resources.
It was not the presence of
infrastructure that led Tiomin to decide to mine titanium in Kwale. Indeed the
interior of Kwale hardly has any infrastructure to speak of.
Rather, it is the presence of
titanium – a valuable natural resource – that will lead to the creation of
infrastructure in due course, once the mining begins.
And many other examples can be
given to prove that sometimes the creation of infrastructure is a consequence
of investment, rather than the existence of infrastructure being a
precondition for investment.
This leads me to the central point
I seek to make, about the potential for regulated sport hunting to transform
the remote and desolate places like Tana River, Marsabit, and other parts of
northern Kenya. But first let me give a little background.
During the recent massacres in
Marsabit, I raised the point that a revival of recreational hunting within the
tourism sector, offered one of the few possibilities for generating tax income
for the Government in that part of the country.
And that once the Government
starts to collect money annually from sport hunting in the area, it would have
no excuse not to provide essential services to the local people, who, it is
generally acknowledged, have a different lifestyle from those in other parts
of the country.
These revenues would serve to fund
wildlife conservation in that region as well, for the aim in sport hunting is
not to deplete wildlife populations, but rather to sustain them so that the
resource can be utilised indefinitely.
In response to this column, I
received a letter from the army of European and American "animal welfare"
activists, who rarely fail to respond harshly to any suggestion that sport
hunting might be re-introduced in Kenya.
Indeed until you have written on
this subject, it is impossible to appreciate the extent to which many
foreigners see us Kenyans as mere custodians of the animals found within our
borders which – as far as these foreigners are concerned – belong to all
mankind, and should not be utilised by any Kenyan communities for economic
This particular reader wanted to
know how I proposed to ensure that the rich hunters who visited northern Kenya
would be safe in "that most inhospitable and dangerous place." His
remarks suggested he knew Kenya quite well.
Well, the answer is that it is
actually the regular presence of wealthy hunters in that area, which will
necessarily lead to far-reaching improvements in security. Those investors who
had the good fortune to successfully bid for concessions to hunting blocks
created in that area would be the first to work (and spend money) towards this
However distasteful this may be to
those who value animal life more than the lives and the welfare of human
beings, the fact is that opportunity to invest in sport hunting tourism in
northern Kenya, would guarantee that infrastructure, services and security
And a strong case can be made that
this is probably the only way in which security and infrastructure could be
brought to that part of the country.
So, irrespective of the political
calculus that lies behind the Government’s recent populist decisions in
relation to various communities in the Rift Valley, this might be the time for
the residents of northern Kenya to push the case for the one solution to their
problems that can be effected by the mere stroke of a presidential or
With the Government seemingly
dedicated to appeasing every single minority group that had previously been
neglected, this is the time for the leaders from that vast arid zone to demand
a repeal of the ban on sport hunting in Kenya.