Handover of Amboseli National Park to Kajiado County begins officially

Amboseli National Park

Tourism CS Alfred Mutua unveils a plaque to mark the beginning of the process of handing over Amboseli National Park to Kajiado County at the park on November 6, 2023.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage has increased the human-wildlife conflict compensation fund by Sh1.5 billion, bringing the total to Sh3.4 billion.

The ministry will also fence Amboseli National Park in Kajiado County over the next seven months to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

Speaking during the unveiling of the members of the Inter-Governmental Technical Transition Committee for the transfer of Amboseli National Park to Kajiado County Government on Monday (November 6, 2023), Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Dr Alfred Mutua said the transfer of the park to Kajiado County Government will make the tourism industry thrive.

The CS was accompanied by Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku, Patrick Ole Ntutu (Narok), Jonathan Lelelit (Samburu), PSs John Olooltua (Tourism), Sylvia Museiya (Wildlife) and other elected leaders from the county.

President William Ruto, during a tour of Maasai Mara on August 20, 2023, approved the handover on a 50:50 revenue-sharing basis between the county and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

"We will ensure a smooth transfer of the park to the county," said CS Mutua, allaying fears that KWS officials, who gave the ceremony a wide berth, were sabotaging the process.

Dr Mutua said his ministry had set aside a Sh1.5 billion compensation fund, bringing the total available for human-wildlife conflicts in the country to Sh3.4 billion.

On Monday, Kajiado, Narok and Samburu counties received Sh39 million from the compensation fund.

"In the past, there was little money set aside for human-wildlife conflict compensation. This year we have Sh1.9 billion but I have added another Sh1.5 billion to compensate hundreds of victims who have been waiting for years," said CS Mutua.

He added that in the next seven months, the ministry will fence Amboseli Park to prevent animals from straying onto communal and private land.

"By mid next year, we will have fenced the park without disturbing the migration routes within the Amboseli Wildlife Circuit. We want those who live near the park to be safe," said Dr Mutua. He urged Kajiado residents not to subdivide their land for sale, but to preserve it for future generations.

Between 2022 and August 2023, human-wildlife conflicts in the vast Kajiado County slowly snowballed into a disaster characterised by retaliatory attacks that led to animal deaths.  

On May 13, 2023, six lions were speared to death by herders at Big Life Foundation's headquarters at Imbirikani Ranch in the Amboseli Ecosystem.

Kajiado Governor Joseph Lenku said the handover of the park to his administration would not only bring resources but also address the social injustice faced by the Maa community.

 "Apart from the resources, the handover will compensate the Maa community for the social injustice. The park land is only 80,000 acres, but the animals roam freely on at least 1 million acres of private and communal land, yet the locals have always been mistreated," said Mr Lenku. 

Narok Governor Patrick Ntutu urged various government departments to speed up the handover of the park to the county government.

"We want the committee unveiled today to start working, this is not a win for the people of Kajiado but for the entire Maa counties, let all government departments speed up the process," said Mr Ntutu.

Samburu Governor Jonathan Lelelit criticised the KWS leadership for giving the event a wide berth saying the handover was long overdue.

"We will not take kindly to people, organisations or government departments blowing hot and cold on the handover process, the Head of State has given orders and that is final," said Governor Lelelit.

Kajiado Senator Samuel Seki urged the Maa community within the Amboseli Ecosystem to take advantage of the economic benefits that will come with the transfer of the park to the county.

"Let the neighbouring communities know that the park will be run professionally and organise themselves to reap more benefits," said Mr Seki.

The park is considered the home of the African elephant and has become a centre for wildlife research.

None of the revenue collected at Amboseli goes to the Kajiado County government, unlike the Maasai Mara and Samburu Game Reserves, which are managed by their respective county governments.