By Kristiana Hall and Amy Farnworth
These shocking images of lions in front of construction sites show wildlife ‘under threat’ as a major railway ploughs right through Nairobi National Park.
These heartbreaking images, taken by Aksel Stevens, 43 from the Netherlands, show defeated-looking lions roaming through the park while in the background, building work happens on Phase 2A of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) between Nairobi and Naivasha.
Nairobi National Park is the only National Park in the world within a capital city; it has a diverse landscape and is home to a large variety of wildlife, including the endangered black and white rhino, and the lions shown in the images.
Animal activists and campaigners have opposed the railway’s construction, which has been tied up in legal battles since 2016.
Friends of Nairobi National Park [FoNNaP] allege the railway is being built unlawfully and will have a huge environmental effect on the wildlife and their habitat.
A spokesperson from FoNNaP said: “We have tried to stop the construction of the railway through the national park and have offered the corporations alternatives and other options for the placement of their development, but they have not taken any notice of our concerns.
“We have presented them with complaints and have also taken them to court, filing seven court cases against them.
“The railway is a threat to the park; it will link major cities and the emissions from the developments and the subsequent growth in commuting and traffic will go into the park, threatening the habitats and the park itself.”
Kenya Railways Corporation and China Road and Bridge Corporation are understood to be the key corporations at the heart of the development.
FoNNaP claim despite a court order preventing construction, which they allege is on account of an unlawfully-obtained Environmental Impact Assessment, the railway, which links Nairobi and Naivasha, is reportedly now almost 70 per cent complete.
Local reports suggest Kenya Wildlife Services, who currently manage the park, gave the green light for the railway to be built through the park as it posed a negligible threat to the animals and plants in the habitat.
However, FoNNap, are still highly opposed to the development and want a more sustainable construction to take place which will minimise the threat and help protect the wildlife in the area.
Speaking to Chinese media, a spokesperson for China Road and Bridge Corporation said the project will not affect the health of the country’s wildlife, heritage and other ecological treasures along its corridor.
They said that sound environmental regulations will be observed during the construction of Phase 2A of SGR which passes through a national park and other biodiversity hotspots.
The spokesman added: “We are committed to adhering to the recommendations set by Kenya Wildlife Services in efforts to offer minimal disruption to the flora and fauna in the national park.”
The actual build through the park started at the end of February 2018 and the whole project is expected to be completed by June 2019.
Kenya Railways Corporation have been contacted for comment.