After Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu ordered the implementation of a ban on charcoal business in Kitui County in January 2018, the order raised sporadic reactions especially from traders of the commodity.
Ngilu’s directive led to a bitter feud between her and former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu who accused Ngilu of moving in to curtail the efforts of business persons, where Waititu even filed a case against Ngilu accusing her of economic sabotage.
The continued acrimony between the two worsened after the torching of a lorry ferrying charcoal in Kitui County.
However, about two years later, Ngilu’s directive seems to be bringing life in the tourism sector at the county as the welcoming environment continues to attract more wild animals in the major game parks including the popular Tsavo East Game Park.
According to Kenya Wildlife Services Senior Assistant Director Dickson Lesimirdana on Wednesday, February 13, more than 600 elephants, over 200 buffalos, several lions, and other wildlife are back in the reserve.
Lesimirdana also indicated that the ban of charcoal business helped in restoring and conserving the reserve stating that the directive helped pacify the game reserve of all human activities.
“The charcoal ban in the county by [the] government attracted more rainfalls in the recent past than before and the game reserve is regaining its former glory. More animals are trooping back,” remarked Lesimirdana.
The county government and the KWS also agreed on various development partnerships aimed at making Kitui game reserves preferred destinations.
Among the benefits that increased for the county are visitors fees charged on local and international tourists.
Among other tourist attraction sites in Kitui include South Kitui and Mwingi North Game Reserves, Mutomo Plant and Bird Sanctuary, parts of Kora National Park, the Nzambani Rock and the rich Akamba culture.
Kitui County was one of the largest producers of charcoal in the country, an activity that massively degraded the environment with a significant reduction in forest cover.
Among the key accusations set by Waititu in the court case in February 2018 was that Ngilu used her position to influence locals against charcoal traders from other counties.
“Ngilu is on record asking her people to deal with pastoralists and charcoal traders who have invaded her county. She must be held responsible and stopped forthwith from further inciting her people and causing more damage to property,” remarked Waititu as quoted by The Standard.
The Ministry of Tourism in 2019 reported that Kenya earned Ksh187 billion from the tourism sector recording growth in tourist arrivals by 37%.