Home > Sabaki River Delta > Demonstrations against land grabbing of Globally Important wetland: Sabaki River Mouth

It doesn’t rain, but pours! Not only are the Dakatcha Woodlands & Tana River Delta under serious threat of destruction, but now the Sabaki River Mouth just north of Malindi is also threatened with destruction from illegal land grabbing. The Sabaki River Mouth is internationally important for the large congregations of waterbirds that gather to feed and roost on its mud flats, in particular the waders and terns. In fact 3-4 years ago we went there to ring waders one night and in the process discovered a vast, hitherto unknown roost of terns which this year (as posted on this blog) numbered an estimated 1/2 million birds.

Greater & Lesser Flamingos also occur in sometimes quite large numbers on the river mouth

The dune system to the immediate north and south of the river mouth are also used by many birds including as a roost site for the Globally Vulnerable Madagascar Pratincole which can number several thousands at times and a breeding site for Collared Pratincole & Spur-winged Plover. Insect surveys we’ve done on the dunes have also shown that there is an amazing diversity of insects including several important pollinator species which are critical for pollinating people’s crops.

One of our volunteeers, Rophus, insect trapping at Sabaki

Earlier this year, in May, we were doing a bird count and were told about and shown beacons that were delimiting a plot of land that someone had clearly taken a claim to. The Sabaki Youth Conservation Group took it to heart to find out who this was and what the story behind it was and to seek to get this ‘grabbing’ of land revoked since it was in the middle of the area planned for a nature reserve. It didn’t stop there and in recent weeks all of the land to the north of the river mouth, on new shifting sand dunes or shallow freshwater seasonal vleis / pools has been ‘grabbed’ and demarcated as belonging to someone. This has really upset not just the Youth Group but many other villagers as it has turned out to be local authorities and members of the Village Land Committee who have simply issued themselves with fat portions of land – 40 people have benefitted when there are 200 families who should get a share if ever it was to be subdivided.

the area of dunes to the north which are part of which has been subdivided

This is so typical of us here in Kenya – almost anyone with authority seems to abuse their position of authority to get what they can out of it and here it appears to be no different. It is said that the Chief, Assistant Chief, village Land Committee members, and even the District Officer have benefitted from it together with direct family members. As a result of this, Michael Kadenge and Joseph Mangi of the Youth Group have really got fired up about it and today helped to organise a demonstration by about 100 local community members to protest these land allocations and to demand that they be refuted and a proper process implented that takes into account the area that has been identified for a reserve. They managed to get the press to attend and to record the event and we’re praying that this publicity will help in having the whole fiasco highlighted and to have it stopped.

Sunset over the river mouth

The impressive thing about these guys is that they’re really doing it for the passion of having the site protected – they are digging into their own pockets to cover the costs of the campaign so far, something they can little afford to do as the only income they have is the little bit of bird guiding they can do together with fishing in the river mouth- and there are precious few fish in the river these days given the number of fisherman and the tiny size mesh many of them use which means they’re catching everything, even the young fish. We are hoping to assist in developing some ecotourism ventures at the river mouth which will be able to raise funds for them and put something back into the community without turning it into concrete and tarmac. If you pray, do pray for these guys and for the struggle to stop this illegal and extremely destructive land allocations that are going on. If you feel at all concerned about this, do write a letter expressing as such to:

Hon. John Michuki
The Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources
NHIF building
P.O. Box 30126, Nairobi
Fax: + 254 (0) 20 2710015/2725586
email: [email protected]

cc to:
The Permanent Secretary,
Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources.
P.O. Box 30126, Nairobi
email: [email protected]

The Director General,
National Environment Management Authority
P.O.BOX 67839, 00200 NAIROBI,
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]; www.nema.go.ke

Director, NatureKenya:
<[email protected]>

Regional Director
IUCN Regional Office for Eastern & Southern Africa
Mukoma Road,
P.O. Box 68200 – 00200,
Nairobi, Kenya
<[email protected]>

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