Silt Threatens Marine Park, allAfrica.com, 10/25/06
By Daniel Nyassy
The coral gardens of the Malindi marine park that attract up to 100,000 tourists annually could disappear in 10 years due to river siltation, the Kenya Wildlife Service warned yesterday.
And if this happened, it would be a setback to tourism and an environmental disaster, said area game warden Ali Sugo and his counterpart at Ruma national park in western Kenya, Mr Robert Njue.
They told journalists at the marine park that massive siltation in the Sabaki river was clogging young coral reefs, a major fish breeding ground.
Mr Sugo said a coral garden had been destroyed by the recent tsunami and had been closed to visitors.
It takes at least 10 years for corals to grow again, and to reverse the trend, he said, research funded by the Government and some NGOs had been launched at the delta.
"Organisations, including the Kenya Marine and Research Institute, Moi University, KWS, the Coral Reef Development Institute and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Scientists Association, have begun research whose findings could save the coral reefs," Mr Sugo added.
He said that of the tourists, more than 20,000 are foreigners and the rest domestic. They are attracted by the coral reefs which contain hundreds of fish species that are viewed through glass-bottom boats.
Tourism minister Morris Dzoro will on Friday tour the Watamu and Malindi marine parks to launch a Sh5 million upgrading project.
Mr Njue said that after the branding - which involves marketing as well as physical and personnel improvement - the number of visitors is expected to rise.
"In our branding programme, we shall print thousands of brochures to be distributed to all the Kenyan embassies abroad as part of the marketing," he said.
"This is with a view to countering tourism competition from South Africa, Egypt and the globe at large."
The project will involve also boosting the KWS website to give more information on the tourist attractions, Mr Njue added.