National alliance formed to protect Kenya’s wildlife
Kenya Wildlife Service has been experiencing challenges with wildlife in the recent times. The problems include animals living their territory and raising the question of human-wildlife conflict; trafficking of wildlife products through the country and growing disenchantment with animals by communities.
The major cause of all these could be as result of corruption of few individuals amongst them game rangers colluding with poachers. Others are competition for space as human population increases and more land is needed for construction leading to encroaching into the parks.
Kitili Mbathi, Director General, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says the organization has been losing wildlife species especially elephants and rhinos due to their ivory. The other reason, says Mbathi, is disillusionment by community members when wildlife destroys their crops.
However, Mbathi is grateful to communities and volunteers who are working closely with KWS by informing them on poachers. He called upon city residents to alert the organization about wildlife roaming loosely for KWS to take action.
“I know wildlife is a dangerous animal especially when it is outside the park on its own walking loosely,” says Mbathi. He explains: “Roaming outside their natural habitat could be as a result of constructions going on near the parks disturbing their peace and hence running away is their reaction to the noise.” says.
Mbathi cautions members of the public to stay calm whenever they spot wild animals roaming in estates and report immediately to the police who will communicate with KWS easily.
At the same time, Mbathi welcomes on board individuals and groups that have shown interest in working with KWS to preserve wildlife and promote their survival to register with the organisation.
It is for this reason that individual organizations who have for decades contributed heavily to conservation programmes, research into the country’s natural assets and capital, community, livelihoods and fighting wildlife crime, will now have an easy time as an umbrella body that will enable them voice their concerns over biodiversity in Kenya has been formed.
The Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) is the body that will represent voices of groups countrywide that are interested in conservation. The organizations, however, must be legally registered and working to advance protection and management of biodiversity in Kenya.
Steve Itela, chairman of the Alliance, underscored the need to route the country towards smart and sustainable development. He said if united, the mission will succeed.
“This is truly a great day for wildlife. We will now work to help Kenya achieve a great Gross Domestic Product (GDP) without losing our forestry, water towers, wildlife, wetlands or marine resources,” Itela assured Kenyans.
According to Itela, Conservation Alliance Kenya (CAK) is up and run. “We are not going to waste any more time as enemies of wildlife are ever busy strategizing on their next move,” explained Itela, regretting that the launch took place at a tumultuous time for Kenya’s wildlife.
Itela noted that in recent times the country has had to deal with lions roaming the city, continued pressure on important wildlife areas, cases of trafficking of wildlife products in the country and growing disenchantment with animals by communities.
“Despite the hurdles being experienced with wildlife currently, we have plans to end them. Our first bold move as CAK officials is to put our expertise into resolving matters to do with land use, national wildlife security and promoting strategic conservation with wise development,” Itela disclosed.
He emphasized that CAK will represent the country at convention forums both at regional and international levels to sort out all issues related to wild animals. “The Alliance will ensure its members are well acquainted with policies and other relevant wildlife information across the regions,” said Itela.
More than 50 not-for-profit conservation organisations gathered at the launch to experience the Alliance in marking a new era of collaboration on wildlife and biodiversity issues in Kenya’s private sector.
The organizations noted that the Conservation Alliance of Kenya must collectively be at the forefront of setting the national agenda in collaboration with the government of Kenya on matters relating to wildlife.
The launch was presided over by Prof Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Alliance was birthed at the First Conference of Conservation NGOs in Kenya, held in Naivasha in 2015, which was presided over by the Cabinet Secretary
Wakhungu lauded establishment of the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) as an umbrella body that provides the essential link between conservation actors in the private sector and the government.
Wakhungu noted that those tasked with driving the nation’s development agenda have no otherwise but to work extra hard to deliver.
“I must say here that CAK has really made a bold step for the benefit of all of us whether in private or public sector to conserve wildlife,” said Wakhungu. She reiterated: “It is for the advantage of us today, our children and generations to come by ensuring fauna and flora are taken care of.”
Winnie Kiirui of Stop Ivory Group said in the past, lack of coordination of activities had contributed to a disjointed approach in confronting major issues. She admitted that it has reduced the conservation fraternity’s ability to tackle the declining state of wildlife.
“I am sure with the Alliance in place, we have a real chance to preserve wildlife, save our forests from depleting due to logging and protect wetland from land grabbers,” Kiirui stressed.
The Alliance hopes to assist the Government and public to handle include conservation and development, community and livelihoods, research and data sharing, wildlife crime and advocacy and lobbying.
Kenyans especially residents from Nairobi County have expressed their hope that this will be a turn-around for wildlife. However, they say the Alliance’s mission and vision should be action oriented and not just statements made in big hotels to please the common man.