Kenyans online have condemned a plan to increase national parks entry fees beginning from next year.
The Nairobi National Park, famed globally as the only national park within a city, is most affected by the proposed increase announced on Tuesday, with fees increasing by almost a factor of five.
The park’s entry fees will go up to 2,000 Kenyan shillings ($13) – up from the current 430 shillings for Kenyans and East African residents.
Residents of other African countries and the rest of the world will pay up to $100 – more than double the current fee of $43.
Visitors to other parks across the country will also pay a higher amount depending on the park category and season, but the increase is lower than that charged to access the park in the capital.
Many Kenyans are arguing that the proposed fees are too high, coming amid a rise in the general cost of living.
Some say the increase will exclude most Kenyans from viewing wildlife and reduce their access to green spaces, particularly in the capital, Nairobi, which has limited free or affordable green spaces.
“High entrance fees might discourage families and students from learning about nature. We need solutions that encourage exploration and education without financial barriers. The proposed rates for 2024 in Mara and KWS parks need to be done away with,” said Stellamaris Miriti, a director of a tour company.
Kenyans have also accused the Kenya Wildlife Service, the agency behind the plan, of failing to show transparency in the public participation process that the agency says supports the hike.
According to KWS, the fees help the agency in “conserving and protecting natural resources, such as wildlife, habitats and ecosystems”.