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A Battle to Change the Environment at Africa’s Only Game Reserve within a Capital City

Rhinos, lions, buffalo and leopards range against the background of a city skyline in the Nairobi National Park. The park has been fenced in on three sides as the city mushroomed around it. Outside its unfenced southern boundary, the banks of the Mochiriri River are a favoured refuge for breeding lions. Animals often pass through to make their way to larger parks beyond. But the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has proposed a 10-year plan to fence land along the southern boundary to reduce conflict between people and animals. The idea has many conservationists up in arms and a court hearing on the plan is scheduled for next week. “This is the lifeline of this park,” said Reinhard Nyandire, a conservationist working with the Friends of Nairobi National Park. Commercial buildings are encroaching on the park’s land and in 2018, a six-km railway bridge was built through it. Sewage from nearby settlements empties into the river, KWS reports say. Animals often leave the park during the rainy season when the grass is too long to see predators and return during the dry season when the grass inside is more lush. The park also links up to migration corridors leading to larger parks. The plan proposes fencing in land on the southern boundary if the owners are willing, or if they do not agree, to fence the park itself.