Kenya’s Marsabit National Park is the French Development Agency’s (AFD) latest venture after their resurrection of Meru National Park.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), studies are being conducted to determine funding needs for the project.
Marsabit’s issues are similar to Meru’s with one addition: its lush forests are at risk from burning and timber usage, and, “with the completion of the Isiolo Moyale highway, the forest is likely to face enormous pressure,” says the KWS.
The park has never been a premier safari destination. It has always been portrayed as unsafe and out of reach since security in the area is tenuous and roads treacherous. It’s also in the Northern Frontier, close to the Ethiopian border where tribes are not exactly friendly.
The one lodge in the area has become more of a stopover for those traveling to the Lake Turkana region than a property catering to safari clients.
Those are pretty good reasons why Marsabit has not been on the usual safari itinerary, but considering it’s the epitome of elephant habitat and a verdant mountain paradise with historical significance, it’s sad indeed.
If the mountain could share secrets, tales would be told of a time during the 1920s when Martin and Osa Johnson, American filmmakers and adventurers, lived at the edge of Lake Paradise filming their first elephant documentary “Wanderings of an Elephant” for the silver screen. The film was renamed “Trailing African Wild Animals” and eventually released.
Years later Osa wrote “Four Years in Paradise,” a memoir about their life in Marsabit. Their books and some of the movies can be found at the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum.
Another famous resident was Ahmed, elephant king of Marsabit. He was so laden with mammoth tusks that President Jomo Kenyatta declared him a national treasure, thereby ensuring that Ahmed had his own 24/7 security detail who protected him from poachers until his death in 1974 from natural causes.
With such an intriguing past and virtually tucked away from mainstream tourist itineraries, Marsabit will be a very appealing destination once the French are done and security in place.
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