A music festival is underway at Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya despite objections from a wildlife NGO, who believe that the protected area should not be used for these types of events.

Honorable Justice John Mutungi ruled that the Nakuru Law Courts did not have the jurisdiction to hear the petition filed by WildlifeDirect.

The Koroga Festival is celebrating African music, food, art and fashion.

The park is an Important Bird Area of international significance, and is home to breeding rüppell's vultures, a species classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and a range of other wildlife including Verreaux's eagles, zebras, buffalos and eland.

Eland grazing in the savanna of Hells Gate National Park, Rift Valley Province, Kenya.
Eland grazing in the savanna of Hells Gate National Park, Rift Valley Province, Kenya. © Santiago Urquijo/Getty

“Success is not winning a court case. Success is thriving wildlife,” says Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect, following the court hearing.

“It is a very sad day for Kenya and lovers of wildlife that the agency responsible for the conservation of wildlife has accepted Ksh 700,000 despite the fact that the event imperils critically endangered species in an already degraded park.”

WildlifeDirect applied for an injunction and petition against Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Naivasha Love Festival, citing that holding the Koroga Festival in the national park goes against the basic purpose of National Parks.

However, the organisers of Koroga Festival say that measures are being taken to minimise any effects on the park and its wildlife, including the event taking place 7.2km away from the vultures' cliff, KWS patrols to manage visitors, no single-use plastic plates, cups or cutlery, and a percentage of funds going to conservation initiatives at Hell's Gate and Longonot National Parks.

Zebras in Hells Gate National Park, Kenya.
Zebras in Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya. © Feargus Cooney/Getty

Main image: A juvenile rüppell's griffon vulture in flight. © Ger Bosma/Getty


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator