Mida Creek in Kilifi County which is among areas along the Kenyan coast where mangrove forests have been degraded. Photo by Nehemiah Okwemba.
BY NEHEMIAH OKWEMBAH
Conservationists have raised concern over destruction of endangered mangrove forests and pollution at the beaches along the Kenyan coast.
The conservationists say their initial studies show a huge demand for timber, charcoal, firewood and poverty levels are to be blame for the degradation of mangrove forests in Kenya.
According to, Ms Arafa Salim Baya, the founder of Mida Creek Conservation, the hardest areas are in Kilifi County.
Ms Baya said Kilifi residents are now invading the mangrove forests in order to burn charcoal, make building materials and firewood for sale.
Speaking after touring some of the affected areas in Kilifi County including the Mida Creek tourist attraction center, Ms Baya noted that 90 percent of youths in the area are unemployed due to high illiteracy levels.
“This has made it hard for most of them to obtain hospitality jobs such as tour guides, coxswains in boats, waiters, cooks and chefs given the region is highly dependent on tourism as the main source of income,” she said.
Ms Baya, who is also a nominated member of Kilifi County assembly said lack of education has worsened the situation since 50 percent of residents do not have minimum qualifications to secure good paying jobs.
“It has emerged that out that hundreds of youth who turn up for job interviews in Kilifi County 90 percent are standard three, four and five dropouts while those who seemed to be more literate had reached the eighth grade,” she observed.
The MCA has now called upon Kilifi residents to help protect the ecosystem which acts as the main source of income in the area.
Some of the mangrove trees being harvested for timber, charcoal and forewood by residents in Kilifi County. Photo by Nehemiah Okwemba.
“Conserving the endangered mangroves species, rare birds in the Mida Creek that migrate from as far as Middle East, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, will help the future generation to benefit from the ecosystem,” she added.
The creek stretches from the sea into Arabuko Sokoke Forest, bringing in the biodiversity of flora and fauna, with water tidal creek surrounded by extensive mangroves trees lined with palms.
The destruction also affects tourism and the Kenya Wildlife service warden in Watamu, Mr Erick Aduda, says that engaging the youth in meaningful activities will go a long way in conserving the mangrove forests.
He added that there are a lot of threats to the marine eco system including pollution which also affects the nesting grounds of turtles.
Mr Aduda called on residents to conserve the environment so that the site remains a world renowned tourist attraction site.
Hoteliers have also raised concern over the pollution and destruction of mangroves and the manager of Temple Point resort, Mr Ravi Roha, has called on the relevant government agencies to help restore order in Watamu and Mida Creek.
Temple Point resort which is located next to the endangered Mida Creek mangroves site is now feeling the pinch as tourists have started relocating to other areas.
Mr Roha said that beach cleanliness and creating awareness will go a long way in conserving the site.
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