Kenya: 'Elephant Girl' Kahumbu Claims She Has Been Banned From Visiting National Parks

19 February 2020

WildlifeDirect CEO Dr Paula Kahumbu, who was recently at the forefront of a campaign against hosting of Koroga Festival at Hell's Gate National Park in Naivasha, claims she has been banned from accessing national parks in Kenya.

Popularly known as 'Elephant girl', Kahumbu is now asking her followers on social media to go to the parks on her behalf.

"Banned from the Kenyan parks will not stop me from fighting 4 them. Many ppl r asking how they can help. My message to you is Go to the parks on my behalf. Make ur visit public on social media, report to @kwskenya on the good, & the challenges. Show how much u care," she tweeted.

I have always paid. I have been prevented from paying and entering the park like any normal citizen.

-- Dr. Paula Kahumbu (@paulakahumbu) February 19, 2020

However, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) Head of Communications Paul Udoto has said he is unaware of such a ban on Dr Kahumbu.

"I am not aware of any ban yet. Please ask Paula to provide you with the evidence of her claim and any reasons given to her for the alleged ban," Udoto told Nairobi News in a text message.

Despite her spirited campaign, Dr Kahumbu and co-plaintiffs lost the case against KWS and organisers of Koroga Festival, which was eventually held at Hell's Gate National Park last weekend.

Dr Kahumbu is a wildlife conservationist and best known as a campaigner for elephants and wildlife, spearheading the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign, which was launched in 2014 with Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

In a long post on Facebook, she explained why she only went after Koroga Festival and not the other events which have been held at the same park.

"Why didn't I challenge the Safaricom Jazz Festival which was also held at Hell's Gate? Because I was not aware of the Safaricom Jazz Festival. In fact the Koroga Festival was announced on Dec 26th and I would not have known if it wasn't for others. I received numerous calls from young Kenyans in other sectors who asked me to intervene."

She said that Koroga Festival was a particularly big problem as it is planned as an annual 48 hour loud music lights at night affair for 15-20,000 people.

"This would prevent nesting vultures and birds of prey from hunting for 48 hours. This would cause chicks to die and adults to abandon nests. The biology was lost on the lawyers for the event and KWS who literally said "they are just birds," she posted.

"So please know that my denial of entry into one of my favorite places, the Nairobi park, was nothing compared to what they are doing to others to muzzle them. This intimidation of independent scientists is what we should all be outraged about."

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