President Uhuru Kenyatta has applauded Kenya’s wildlife conservation agencies led by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for successful anti-poaching efforts.
“The reduction in losses in terms of elephants, rhinos and other endangered species is because of the great work that KWS, its officers and men are doing to ensure that the (wildlife) heritage is protected,” the President said.
The Head of State spoke Monday evening at State House, Nairobi when he received the 2021 National Wildlife Census Report. The country’s first ever wildlife census report was presented to the Head of State by Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.
At the brief ceremony also attended by the Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua, the President said wildlife is an important national heritage which needs to be protected and conserved for posterity and for the benefit of all Kenyans.
“(Wildlife) is our heritage, this is our children’s legacy and it is important for us to be able to know what we have in order to be better informed on policy and also on actions needed as we move forward. And it being a national heritage, it is something we should carry with pride,” President Kenyatta said.
He said, with the comprehensive census findings, the Government was better equipped to plan its wildlife conservation interventions, and tasked the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife to transform recommendations in the report into policies and programmes.
“Equally, we need to sit down together to see how we can bring on board the issues that you have raised (in the census report) which are now becoming of great concern,” the President advised, and called for the adoption of the proposal to carry out the wildlife census every three years.
On the issue of human-wildlife conflict, the President assured Kenyans that the Government will continue seeking sustainable solutions to the challenge, and urged sector stakeholders to continue educating host communities on the importance of wildlife conservation.
According to the census report, Kenya has a total of 36,280 savanna elephants, the fourth largest population in the world after Zimbabwe, Botswana and Tanzania respectively.
The groundbreaking census, fully funded by the Government of Kenya and conducted by local experts, established that the country is home to 1,739 rhinos among them two northern white rhino species, 897 black rhinos and 840 southern white rhinos.
In his remarks, Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala thanked the Presiden for the Government’s facilitation of the historic exercise, and assured the Head of State of his ministry’s commitment to the full implementation of the report’s recommendations.
CS Balala said the Government had made tremendous progress on the issue of poaching, and was now moving towards resolving the human-wildlife conflict challenge which he said was not getting adequate global attention.
“I am trying to raise this agenda internationally because there is enough funding in anti-poaching but there is no funding for communities. There’s no funding for people’s livelihoods. So people have been forgotten in this sector,” CS Balala told the President.
Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Brig (Rtd) John Waweru also spoke at the event attended by Wildlife and Tourism CAS Joseph Boinnet, Wildlife PS Prof Fred Segor and his Tourism counterpart Safina Kwekwe among other senior Government officials.