Tourism and Wildlife cabinet secretary Najib Balala has offered free entry to Nairobi National Park to Kenyans aged 75 years and above as part of activities to commemorate the park’s 75th anniversary.
The offer will run for the next three weeks and culminate ahead of the celebrations to be held on December 16, 2021 at Kisembe Glade within the park.
Speaking at Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters on Thursday, Balala extended the offer to one more person chosen by the senior citizen, a driver and their vehicles.
In addition, Balala also announced free entry into Nairobi Safari Walk and Orphanage during the same period for registered people with disabilities and young ones from children’s homes.
If you do not fit into any of the above categories, there will still be a treat for you; be among the first 75 visitors to the park on December 16 and be assured of free entry.
Nairobi National Park was established in 1946 by Mervyn Cowie, a conservationist who pioneered the national park system in Kenya. Cowie was a director of the park from 1946 to 1966.
In order to preserve the history of the park, Balala said a photo gallery showcasing the park since gazettement as well as recent photos will be exhibited to take guests down memory lane.
Also included in the raft of activities to mark the anniversary include a rollout of a new revenue management system initially to be piloted in Nairobi National Park, Amboseli and Nakuru National parks. All parks are expected to have digital payment portals by July 2022.
Nairobi National Park, said Balala, has withstood many socio-economic and ecological pressures to preserve its biodiversity integrity and set the pace for Kenya’s world-renowned national park system.
In recent years, some parts of the park have been hived off to pave way for new infrastructure including roads and the standard gauge railway. There have been fears that the infrastructure projects and pressure from human settlements would sound a death knell for the 29,000-acre park.
However, Balala allayed those fears saying KWS got almost Sh4 billion as government compensation from the roads and railway developments within the park.
“The park’s location next to a fast-growing capital city has brought unique challenges. The government is well aware of these challenges and is committed to tackling them as is humanly possible. Last year the park acquired more land after the national government surrendered 2,000 acres of what used to be the Sheep and Goats Research Facility. This means that Nairobi National Park has enlarged from its initial 29,000 acres to 31,000 acres under Kenya Wildlife Service protection,” said Balala.
Despite the ownership wrangle on the former research facility located on the southern side of the park, Balala says it will provide a wildlife corridor to interconnect the park, Swara and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) conservancies, in Machakos County.