No Need For Speed!!!- Article by Gareth Jones
No Need For Speed In The Nairobi National Park
Some time ago, I drove through the park after a long tiring day at work. I was starting to feel more relaxed after a pleasant drive through the park. Then suddenly my phone rang “someone has hit a female bushbuck on the tar road, between No2 & No3 junction”. A while later, I arrived at the exact spot where the bushbuck was hit by a speeding vehicle, the only sad evidence was a patch of fresh blood on the tar. The poor bushbuck must have crawled off the road in sheer agony, what was left was patches of thick vital blood on the tar road. It was obviously killed by a speeding vehicle, however, the guilty driver just did a “hit & run”, as nobody actually saw the actual deed happen. There is simply “no need for speed”.
Immediately my mood went from a relaxed mellow to irritated and angry! Who could have done this? and why drive so recklessly? Without real proof, it cannot be said who killed that female bushbuck. However, over the years a disturbing trend has emerged, from a pregnant Suni killed in the forest, to another female bushbuck also killed in the forest, numerous shrub hares have been killed, plus many birds and other “road kills”. Over many years with a growing city, more and more people enter the park, and speeding has definitely increased dramatically. This speeding practice is very selfish and shows no consideration for those persons who keep to the rules and drive slowly. It is only a matter of time before a large animal like a Black rhino, buffalo, or giraffe is hit by a speeding vehicle if there is no action to stop speedsters.
I have also observed a number of incidents where people driving at high speed endanger their own lives and the lives of others when they roll their vehicles on rough roads. The roads within the park are definitely not designed for high speed. It is even more dangerous for “party in the park” abusive type of people to drive at high speed after drinking copious amounts of alcohol often resulting in regrettable consequences.
The current reality is that speeding continues to be an issue in the park. KWS now needs to take more drastic action to control over speeding (above 30km/hr) in the park. Those who drive at high speed vary from day trip visitors, some regular tour operators, to contractors in huge trucks, and at times KWS vehicles beyond the call of duty. The Kenya Wildlife Service needs to consider other vehicle speed control measures such as increased ranger and traffic patrols including speed traps, speed control bumps, banning offenders. Visitors and appointed park patrol members can note the registration, take a speeding vehicle photo, and report the incident to the KWS Hotline numbers – on 0733323770 or 0721741466. Whatever the various possible solutions, serious action is needed. It is hoped that national park offenses that occur when people break the park rules will be gazetted through an act of parliament to become law, which can result in heavy fines, and possibly banning those who blatantly break the laws in peaceful places like the Nairobi National Park.
However, it should be noted that those who break the rules or simply do not care are definitely in the minority. I have personally done well over 4,500 game drives within the Nairobi National Park and my experience is that more than 95% of people in the park are well behaved and that the extreme offenders are a very small group that needs to be controlled by law. We pray many more people get involved in ensuring that the park remains a natural wild haven. Driving slowly will ensure a much more rewarding wildlife experience as people then observe and see creatures that they would not even see at higher speeds!!! We need to continue to “be an active voice for the creatures who cannot speak”. There is no need for speed!!!