3 May 2012

Kenya: Hells Gate National Park Will Not Be Renamed, Says KWS Boss

Hells Gate National Park will not be renamed as suggested by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, KWS director Julius Kipng'etich has said. He said it is "unworkable" as the name had already been gazetted.

Kalonzo wanted the park renamed following the tragic death of seven youth who were swept away by a flash flood. "Some people have suggested that we change the name Hells Gate but this name is gazetted and we don't have plans to change it," Kipng'etich said.

Last week Kalonzo, while sending his condolences to the bereaved families, called on KWS to change the name saying it is not appropriate. The seven youths were in a group of 51 youths from Dagoreti in Nairobi who had visited the park but were washed away by waters while in the gorge. Kipng'etich consoled the affected families terming the incident as unfortunate.

He said the gorge which has since been closed to the public will reopen once the ongoing rains subsided. "We are addressing the issue of security in our parks and we have embarked on training local guides in Hells Gate National Park," he said. Kipng'etich was speaking during the launch of the Hells Gate on a wheelbarrow race which has become an annual event.

This year event will be held on June 16 and funds collected will go towards constructing an ultra modern Sh20m education and resource centre. During the event, a member of the parks management committee Sarah Higgins said the country had lost 60 per cent of its vultures.

She said Hells Gate is the only place in the country where the birds nest but their figures are dropping at an alarming rate. "Many tourists have been attracted to this park to view the vultures but incidentally their figures are on the decline," Higgins said. The warden in charge of the park Nelly Palmeris said they have decided to hold the wheelbarrow race annually as one way of conserving nature. Present during the function were various sponsors from Kengen, Uchumi, Crayfish, Oserian, Finlays among others.

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