News From Kenya
October 2014, Volume 12-5-I

Early this year, a concerted effort by a few conservation organization to sensitize the public about the alarming rate of poaching in the country culminated in a Press Conference led by Richard Leakey and his organization called Wildlife Direct during which he loudly proclaimed the situation as requiring declaration by the country’s President as a “National Disaster” and instituting emergency measures accorded to such a declaration.

The wildlife agency, KWS, was at the same time declared by the lobbyists as incompetent and too corrupt to deal with the crisis.

The response from the Ministry and KWS was swift and defensive. Without really giving substantial data to counter the accusations, the reaction was more about calling the organizations alarmists, insincere and motivated by self-gain. KWS went at length to show a trend of increase in enforcement activities and reduction in the rate of loss. Since then, interestingly there has been reduced reports on poaching! Notably, reports on arrests and seizures at points of entry/exit continue unabated.

On the plus side however, stern sentences have been passed by the Courts on some foreign nationals found with ivory, and some mysterious deaths of alleged known poaching masterminds which some have called extra judicial killings.

Sadly, it is no secret that KWS is undergoing some management challenges with uncertainty among the senior staff and lack of a substantive CEO and Board of Trustees whose terms expired early this year. To complicate things further, since last year there has been a proposal being tested to merge the Forest Service with KWS, something along the lines of the USA model of Fish and Wildlife. There has been strong opposition to this from the many conservation organisations in the country. While the alleged deadline has passed, there hasn’t been any official statement as to the status or decisions around this proposal yet.

Author: Ali Kaka