Kenya reinvents wildlife conservation strategies as threats evolve
Kenya has embarked on retooling national conservation programs for iconic wild species against a backdrop of evolving threats to their survival from pathogens, invasive species, habitat loss and climate shocks.
Najib Balala, secretary of the tourism and wildlife cabinet, noted that a reimagining of wildlife conservation strategies will focus on expanding their space, community engagement, research and big data to revitalize the action against threats induced by man and nature which have mutated rapidly.
Balala said the government will invest in additional space for wildlife, encourage community participation in anti-poaching efforts and leverage the data to inform actions on emerging threats such as invasive species and pandemics.
“We are reshaping wildlife conservation programs to ensure they address threats that go beyond poaching to cover conflicts with communities over space as well as climate-related diseases and disasters,” said Balala said at an event marking World Elephant Day on Wednesday.
He said the government will mobilize innovative funding to strengthen the protection of endangered wildlife through raising awareness of anti-poaching and supporting the livelihoods of communities engaged in conservation work.
Balala said the government’s immediate priority was to engage local communities to coexist with iconic wildlife species that generate revenue for the public treasury through tourism.
“The government will continue to provide incentives to communities willing to facilitate the use of their lands for wildlife corridors and dispersal areas,” Balala said.
He said providing alternative lands to communities adjacent to wildlife sanctuaries will minimize the conflicts responsible for the decline in the carnivore population.
Balala said the government would enforce dissuasive laws to curb human encroachment on wildlife habitat while providing financial incentives to farmers and nomads who promote harmonious coexistence with wild animals.
“We will ensure that communities benefit from the protection of wildlife habitats that have shrunk in size due to rapid population growth,” Balala said.
He said the government will provide regulatory incentives to improve the financial sustainability of conservatories that provide livelihood support to local communities involved in protecting wildlife habitats.
According to Balala, the Monday launch of a wildlife research and training institute will improve access to the latest data on the country’s iconic species and the threats they face.
“This will be the basic data and information that will form the basis for monitoring wildlife population trends in the country,” Balala said, adding that Kenya intended to use drones to conduct a wildlife census. in remote areas.
Kenya marked World Elephant Day amid calls for a paradigm shift to improve protection of giant land mammals in the face of threats to their survival from poaching and habitat fragmentation.
Fred Segor, senior secretary of the State Department of Tourism and Wildlife, said expanding space for iconic mammals like elephants and rhinos, combined with increased surveillance, is key to improving their survival. .
“We need to explore innovative ways to expand the habitats of elephants and other wildlife,” Segor said, adding that protecting the habitats of iconic species will strengthen their resilience to future pandemics and climate stresses.
John Waweru, chief executive of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said overhauling national conservation programs is imperative given the emergence of new and virulent threats to iconic species like mammals, carnivores and birds.
“Using modern technology and enforcing punitive legislation to deter wildlife crime will ensure a secure and sustainable future for the iconic species,” Waweru said.
He said Kenya is banking on regional cooperation, research, public awareness and sustainable funding models to rejuvenate wildlife conservation amid disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.