Letters from Shiku: Walk the Talk and Save Mau Forest
One of Kenya’s most powerful men has just been in Stockholm. Apart from being powerful and famous, Prime Minister Raila Odinga is one of the leaders who has taken a passionate stand to save the Mau forest. Already millions of Kenyans are starving, rivers have dried up and thousands of animals have perished in drought.
Currently the settlers are in a mad rush to squeeze the last penny from the forest before they are evicted or re-located. This has resulted in aggressive felling of trees. The trees are then sold off as logs in a bid to maximize their profit out of the forest before the government takes a stern move. Thus Mau forest is drying with every click of a second.
The Prime minister should not be shuddered by a selfish slice of Rift Valley MPs who are busy antagonizing his efforts to conserve Mau. These politicians shouting loudest own huge chunks of land which they acquired illegally. These are the same guys who sold part of `their’ land to innocent poor farmers. The list which was tabled in Parliament by the Prime Minister revealed that the beneficiaries of Mau forest are rich and politically connected individuals. Why then should they be compensated?
Noble Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai recently requested the government to consider the plight of the millions of Kenyans at stake but should not be cowed by the few self-seekers who fail to see the importance of conserving Mau forest and see voters instead of destruction.
Mau forest is Kenya’s biggest catchment area. The rivers that flow from it feed savannah of Maasai Mara as well as four other national parks. The famous “Pink Lake” is in danger because all the rivers that feed it have dried up.
The outcome of Mau destruction has been felt far and wide. The Mara river, which is fed from the Mau forest, is having low water which is threatening to dry up any time soon. The recent wild beast migration from Mara to Serengeti was not spectacular as it has been in the past. No hunting by crocodiles as the beasts leisurely walk in and out.
If evictions are implemented immediately, the forest could be re-stored within the desired time frame of three years. Kenyans need to do whatever it takes to ensure that the Mau catchment is preserved.