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Conservationists oppose bombing of Boni Forest

Conservationists and activists in Lamu County have opposed the bombing of Boni Forest by the military to flush out Al-Shabaab militants believed to be hiding in the dense cover.

Addressing the media at Mwana Arafa Hotel in Lamu town Wednesday, Lamu County Wildlife Conservation Committee Chairman Ali Shebwana and members of Save Lamu lobby said the bombing would destroy flora and fauna conserved for centuries in the forest.

Mr Shebwana said the bombing would directly affect the way of life of the minority Boni community (Aweer) who depend entirely on the forest for their livelihood.

The Boni, who are traditionally hunters and gatherers, depend on the forest for wild fruits, roots, honey and wild animals for food.

The forest is also a huge tourist attraction.

BOMBING

The forest was declared a no-go zone by the Kenya Defence Forces shortly after the national government launched the multi-agency security operation “Linda Boni” in September 15, 2015.

The military started bombing parts of the forest suspected to be al-Shabaab hideouts last week.

READ: Dilemma for Garissa herders in Boni Forest

READ: KDF bombs forest to flush out Shabaab

However, Mr Shebwana asked the national government to think of better and more effective ways to tackle the Shabaab menace in Lamu and the country at large other than having to bomb the forest.

His sentiments were echoed by Mr Is’haq Khatib of Save Lamu who said bombing the forest will not permanently solve the terrorism problem.

Mr Khatib said the forest was rich in history and was crucial scientifically because of its rare plants and animals.

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