|I (carrying a bag) and a friend on our way to Ndere Island National Park.|
For a national park that was gazetted 24 years ago the Ndere Island National park in Lake Victoria and only 35.8 Km from Kisumu city the standard of the park is low for Wildlife Services (KWS) slogan of providing world leading parks. Actually, the potential of the park is yet to be fully unlocked for the benefit of the region and government.
Most Kenyans attention to the park was drawn in a visit by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to open the park (I wonder when it was closed!) together with the impala park in Kisumu. Prior to the visit someone from KWS hastily dotted signposts from Kisumu to the park, after the visit it the same old story.
Personally, my attention was drawn to the park on a recreational team building hike as a member of Maseno University Red Cross chapter in last semester. Sadly, since 1986 the campsite is till under construction without even a reception desk. Visitors will be content to carry their own packed food and beverages. What is seen on Asat beach before a 2Km boat ride to the island is a mere fence and white washed stones with tickets being sold on a bench!
The KWS officer in charge pointed out the Lorries we found carrying hay from the park to and other parks for drought stricken animals shows the potential of Ndere.
Standing picturesque and majestic among other four islands; Ochola, Rambugu, Imra and Gera, the 4.2Km2/Sq park teams with baboons, impalas, statunga, hippos, crocodiles in addition to several bird species for an ornithologist haven. If marketed appropriately the feature of an island park nestled in the sparkling waters of the second largest lake in the world will attract not only foreign but local tourists like students from learning institution in the region and other Kenyans.
A fisherman, David Migot-Nyaluo who ferried us to the island says he only manages a trip a day. This is the same plight of the matatu drivers and conductor who we had hired, telling us they hardly make a trip a day. Like varsity students with blank stares on the park, the drivers and conductors playing the Kisian-Bondo route couldn’t pinpoint the way to the park; this clearly shows the level of neglect.
I know the recent opening by the PM is not sufficient enough and the KWS plan to relocate buffaloes, giraffes and maybe elephants to the park should be sped up. With proper marketing and resources the park can benefit the government and locals like Mr Migot-Nyaluo.
Opinion published on The Star issue of 7/9/2010 and Daily Nation issue on 8/9/2010 and DN online