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Chinese Government supports four Community Conservancies with Anti-Poaching Equipment

The new partnership between the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) and Mara Conservation Fund (MCF) saw the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi support four community wildlife conservancies in elephant anti-poaching efforts in Kenya’s Northern Rangelands and North Coast. It is noteworthy to observe that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other law enforcement agencies are trying their best to contain the situation, however the situation remains dire hence the need to provide assistance to community wildlife conservancies.

The four beneficiaries of 34 portable tents, 42 back packs, 42 sleeping bags, 42 camel backs, 8 binoculars, 4 Geographical Positioning Systems (GPS) and 2 Unit huts for radio room and office sets are; Nasuulu, Leparua, Nakuprat-Gotu and Ndera community wildlife conservancies. These equipment will be presented to the four conservancies to help enhance security cover for wildlife through targeted patrols by Community Conservancies in Northern Rangelands and North Coast and facilitate implementation of a standardized system for monitoring elephants in the two areas.

 
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 11:48    PDF Print E-mail
*Egypt is the Worst Place to be a Migratory Bird

US author sounds warning over Egyptian trapping that kills millions of birds as they migrate from Europe into Africa.

Birds Nets
A line of nets erected on coastal dunes to catch migrating Common Quail
(Coturnix coturnix) along the Egyptian Mediterranean seashore, autumn 2012. Photo by Holger Schulz/NABU

August marks the start of the annual migration of millions of birds from their European breeding areas to their wintering grounds in Africa. Many will fly across the eastern Mediterranean towards Egypt, where they will land, exhausted, on a coast along which hundreds of kilometres of trappers' nets have been spanned to create almost unbroken walls of death on the seaside dunes.

These nets will catch at least 140 million birds this year, according to one biologists estimate, more than one in twenty of the migrant birds leaving Europe for Africa. This number does not include those killed along Egypt's coast by other means: trees shrouded in nets with north-facing openings catch instinct-propelled, southbound migrants before they can head across the Sahara, ingenious shade traps set on the ground snare birds seeking relief from the sun and lime-coated sticks strategically placed in bushes bring birds to a sticky end.

Those birds that make it through the coastal gauntlet into the Western Desert face more danger. Almost every oasis and isolated grove of acacia trees, 'magnets' for birds seeking shade and rest during their strenuous desert crossings, is occupied by hunters who shoot at every bird they see, say local conservationists.

"I think it's very safe to say that Egypt is the worst place to be a migratory bird," said the bird-loving American author Jonathen Franzen, who visited the country last year to report on threats to migrants across the Mediterranean for National Geographic. Egyptians have caught migrant birds for subsistence since the time of the pharoahs, but in recent years the intensity of the trapping and shooting has escalated to unprecedented levels according to conservationists I interviewed. Birds are increasingly being killed purely for recreation, and wildlife law enforcement, never strong, has become almost nonexistent in the political turmoil that has enveloped the country since Hosni Mubarak was deposed in early 2011.

A German wildlife TV crew working in Egypt last year estimated that continuous nets lined at least 700km of the Egyptian Mediterranean coast during the autumn migration, the only places not intensively netted being military bases and cities. The Egyptian coast is “the world’s biggest bird trap” they said, with nets running right through small towns and private gardens. Franzen told me that he saw tourists squeezing their way through small gaps in nets to get from their beach resorts to the sea. In recent years, as policing has evaporated, the nets have become taller and are no longer spaced apart. Sometimes they're spanned three meters deep.

Illegally killed migrant birds available for sale in the market place in very large quantities
Illegally killed migrant birds available for sale in the market place in very large quantities

Species such as shrikes, wheatears and warblers are not released. Their wings are typically broken and they're transported live and sold for pennies to local merchants, who later butcher and sell them. The numbers of bycatch species caught is poorly known because "nobody has investigated this in a systematic way," says Franzen (the estimate of 140 million birds per year is a simple calculation by the German conservation group Nature and Biodiversity Consevation Union (NABU) based on documented net catch rates in Cyprus, which, like Egypt, is on the Eastern Mediterranean migratory flyway).

Some birds sold cheaply in Egyptian markets belong to threatened species that benefit from expensive, taxpayer-funded EU conservation programmes.

Sherif Baha El Din of Nature Conservation Egypt, a wildlife Non Governmental Organization (NGO), told me that remote acacia groves had been hard to find and access in the past, but with Geographical Positioning System (GPS) devices and fast SUVs being easily available to wealthy youth, "now every tree has someone waiting with a shotgun or an air pistol" during migration. There are even fist fights over trees, which can return a tidy profit to enterprising shooters. (Franzen visited an oasis frequented by oriole hunters where he reckoned at least 5,000 were shot in a single year.)

Dead orioles are sold to middlemen who transport them to consumers with sexual problems in the Gulf states, presumably in refrigerated trucks. As with almost every aspect of the bird hunting issue, conservationists don't understand the economics of and participants in the trade very well.

Although bird hunting takes place on a massive scale, said Baha El Din, a minority of the country's population is involved and most people know nothing about it. "If you just pick some random Egyptian on the street or in the government, it just doesn't register with them." The important first step, therefore, was to make migratory bird conservation an issue in Egypt and around the world.

the world. "If there's ever going to be cultural change," he said, "it's going to come from Egyptians themselves realising, that, there aren't as many birds as there used to be, maybe there's a different way for us to interact with them." Such a change, said Franzen, "is probably going to have to come from the bottom up because the Egyptian population has a very problematic relationship with police and with regulation at this point.

"Unfortunately it's the long game – and the birds are declining at such a rate that it's wrenching to play the long game."

Nigel Hunter
East African Wild Life Society

EAWLS has reproduced this article because East Africa is the wintering destination for many of these birds. Birds are part of our biodiversity heritage and it is our biodiversity richness that underpins a significant portion of our tourism sector and therefore our economic well-being. Secondly, some bird species such as the migratory shrikes play an important natural role in controlling crop pests on farmers fields in an environmentally safe and cost effective manner. Recent research in Kenya has shown that if this natural predation is removed, crop yields can have significant declines. Thirdly migratory species belong to all countries where such birds occur and each of those countries has a responsibility to assist in ensuring that such species continue to be enjoyed by all such countries. For these reasons.

EAWLS believes there is a strong need to undertake advocacy work on this issue. We need to support Birdlife International in the efforts they are making; we need to encourage Egyptian conservation organizations to feel they are not alone; we need to have the Kenya Government undertake discussions with the Egyptian Government; and we need to keep the issue in the public domain, until we see good solutions being applied. Lastly please make your voice heard by emailing Golden Oriole on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

*This shortened article appeared in full in the Guardian Newspaper on Friday 19th July 2013.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:25 )
 
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:51    PDF Print E-mail
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill 2013, as submitted to the National Assembly (July 2013)

Information Note on The Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill 2013, as submitted to the National Assembly (July 2013)

WE SUPPORT THE WILDLIFE BILL BUT WE HAVE 3 MAJOR CONCERNS
Introduction
In 2010 the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife reviewed the draft bill as it then existed and realised it had serious operational deficiencies. The Ministry then set up a technical committee to address these weaknesses and after August 2010 to harmonize the Bill with the Constitution, which was done over a series of meetings, including a peer review process. In August 2011, a draft was presented to a national stakeholders’ workshop which was attended by over 200 participants. The comments obtained from this workshop and subsequent written submissions were consolidated, validated and where ever appropriate incorporated into the bill by the Technical Team. This process led to a final draft of the Bill being completed in April 2012. The understanding was that the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife would then put this draft into the Public Domain and promote it’s passage through Cabinet and onto Parliament via the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution and the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Land. Regrettably this did not happen and instead we have a draft that was amended by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife behind closed doors and which has had no public scrutiny despite this being a requirement of the Constitution as explained to the Ministry by the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution on at least two occasions. This secret process has led to 3 major concerns that Members of Parliament should be aware of when considering this Bill.
Concern 1 - The Wildlife Regulatory Council
The Wildlife Regulatory Council The Ministry has inserted a new institution, known as The Wildlife Regulatory Council. A critique of the articles related to the functions of the Council can be summarized as follows:
1. The intention was that the County Wildlife Conservation Committees should undertake the facilitation of user rights and licensing, in line with the decentralisation process required by the Constitution. By having the County Wildlife Conservation Committees undertake that responsibility, the conflict of interest feared by the Kenya Wildlife Service during the drafting was largely removed. The intention to have the Regulatory Council take over those functions will create a tug of war and will not be consistent with the Constitution. Nor do you need a Council to co-ordinate the County responsibilities. This can be done by the Ministry’s Directorate of Conservation as spelt out in the Bill.
2. In essence the creation of the Regulatory Council does not end a KWS role in licensing. Since the technical and scientific functions in wildlife management remain with KWS, any advice/recommendations regarding the issuing of a license would have to come from KWS.
3. The Regulatory Council appears to take over all licencing. But the Kenya Wildlife Service is the CITES management Authority with legal responsibility for implementing CITES permits, etc. But it is now totally unclear as to who will have that responsibility.
Inclusion of the Regulatory Council conflicts with the role of the Service, the Directorate and County Wildlife Conservation Committees, it adds an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and cost to the government and undermines the principle of devolution in management. The way in which the Regulatory Council is drafted takes resources away from KWS without actually providing true regulation or oversight. A regulatory council of this nature should be set out in a separate piece of legislation that has been given proper consideration, and could fall under EMCA as a regulatory council for all environmental resources.

IT IS PROPOSED THAT THE CREAT ION OF THIS REGULATORY COUNCIL BE REMOVED ENTIRELY FROM THIS PRO POSED LEGISLAT ION AND THE
FOLOWING FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL BE ADED TO KWS.

(i) To identify, and determine categories of user rights
(ii) To grant wildlife user rights in accordance with article 69 (1) of the Constitution; permits and licenses in consultation with the County Wildlife Conservation Committee and in accordance with national standards, goals, objectives, targets and indicators set by the Directorate.
(iii) To monitor the activities of licensees in consultation with the County Wildlife Conservation Committee in order to enforce compliance with the license terms and conditions.
Concern 2 - Incentives and Benefit-sharing
The replacement of the text, which had been fully agreed by the Technical Committee, including the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, on Incentives and Benefit Sharing, by text which suffers from a non transparent and non participatory approach is a major concern because.
1. Wording on incentives and benefit sharing does not reflect what was agreed by the Technical Committee. As currently drafted, the wording is vague and there are no specific incentives rather a reiteration of principles relating to management.
2. Section 60 states that the Council shall formulate regulations and guidelines on access and benefit sharing; Section 63 states the Cabinet Secretary shall formulate guidelines relating to benefit sharing and incentives – this is another overlap between the Council and another body (the Directorate) as to function.
3. There must be public consultation on this vital issue in the interests of transparency to ensure incentives and benefit sharing uphold an enabling environment for wildlife conservation. There has been a dramatic decline in wildlife numbers in Kenya because of the lack of incentives to those who live with and bear the cost of living with wildlife.
The original text submitted to the Ministry in April 2012, may not be perfect but it is significantly better than the current text and it reflects far more closely the requirements of the Constitution and inputs provided by stakeholders.

AMEND ARTICLES 57-63 ON INCENTIVES AND BENEFIT SHARING AND SPECIFY RULES FOR INCENTIVES AND BENEFIT SHARING TO BE ISSUED WITHIN SIX MONTHS

Delete section 57 to 63 and replace with the following (taken in part from the original Technical Committee version):

1. The Cabinet Secretary upon advice from the Service, in consultation with the Commission for Revenue Allocation and other relevant government departments and following public consultation in accordance with Schedule Four of this Act, shall issue rules and regulations governing incentives and benefit sharing within six months of the passage of this Act.
2. In recognizing wildlife conservation and management as a legitimate form of land use, but recognizing that such use incurs costs, which if not addressed can lead to a decline in the management and value of wildlife, the county wildlife conservation committee shall ensure that benefits are derived in accordance with established procedures and the provisions of the law and regulations.
3. In recognizing the contribution land owners and communities can make, inter alia, to:
a. facilitating the provision of corridors and dispersal areas
b. maintaining wildlife populations in areas used for livestock grazing
c. contributing to the protection of wildlife in National Parks
d. maintaining environmental services
e. assisting in the development of the tourism sector the Service shall ensure that benefits accruing from wildlife utilization are shared in an equitable and fair manner in accordance with established procedures and the provisions of the law
4. The benefits may be realized in a number of direct and indirect ways including:
a. Fees, rents and other charges
b. Undertaking partnership arrangements with proper equity in profit distribution
c. Leasing concessions, using tender processes
d. Obtaining payments for assisting national objectives, e.g. the provision of corridors
e. Obtaining payments for environmental services
f. Waiving of permit and licence fees
g. A reduction in costs by supporting mitigation of human wildlife conflict.
h. Compensation
i. Providing capacity building for improved decision making and benefit flows.
5. In addition, the Service may adopt other benefit sharing measures as deemed appropriate
6. Notwithstanding the provisions of any relevant revenue Act, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for finance shall, on the recommendation of the Cabinet Secretary responsible for wildlife, propose fiscal incentives to induce or promote wildlife conservation and management.
Concern 3 - Information and monitoring
The text in regard to collecting and sharing information in regard to, for example, the status of wildlife countrywide; the trends in wildlife conservation and management approaches and practices; the processes or activities likely to impact on wildlife conservation; and wildlife statistics seems essential if Vision 2030 with Tourism signaled as a major economic driver is to be achieved. Similarly the text requiring The Cabinet Secretary at least once every five years, to submit to the National Assembly a monitoring report showing the extent to which the national wildlife strategy has achieved its set
objectives and to avail the monitoring report to the public also seems essential.

RE-INSERT PROVISIONS ON RESEARCH, INFORMATION AND MONITORING

KWS should be accountable to Kenyan citizens, it should keep a database on research and monitoring, drawing on data from its own and other sources, and it is a constitutional requirement to make this information available. Section 8 that relates to KWS functions is too broadly drafted and the section on Wildlife Research and Monitoring that was in previous drafts of the Bill has now been omitted and should be re-instated. KWS and the Ministry need to be given a clearer instruction on what is expected in this area.

FOR MORE INFO:
T. + 254 (20) 3874145
M. + 254 722 202473 / + 254 734 600632
E. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.eawildlife.org

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 September 2013 14:44 )
 
Thursday, 30 May 2013 16:15    PDF Print E-mail
Government Stopped from Interfering With Nairobi National Park

A THREE-Member panel of the National Environment Tribunal (NET) has made a landmark ruling that has stopped the construction of a section of the Southern Bypass in the Nairobi National Park.

The NET has also asked the Ministry of Roads and the Kenya government to follow the law if it wishes to degazette the relevant section of the park.

Through KENHA, the Government of Kenya had intended to put up a 4-km section of the Southern Bypass in Nairobi National Park, contrary to the conditions given by NEMA when it issued the EIA license for the said road.
Upon realizing this, Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), East Africa Wild Life Society and a prominent conservationist, Dr Paula Kahumbu, appealed the Environmental Tribunal to stop KENHA from damaging any part of the Nairobi National Park by building a heavy-traffic road through it.
Nairobi National Park is an important wildlife area that is home to a pride of 15 Lions, critically endangered bird species, numerous plant species including the whistling acacia thorn tree which is fodder for the black rhino. The Park was gazette in 1957 and a title deed for 999 issued to the Trustee of the Royal National Parks of Kenya in 1961. It is a popular destination that now caters to 120,000 visitors every year. It is also unique in being the only wildlife park in a capital city in the world.

In a ruling that took two hours to deliver, the members of the tribunal upheld the appeal by ANAW, EAWLS and Dr. Kahumbu to stop the construction of the Southern Bypass. They also set a date for the determination of who is to bear the costs of the application and asked respondents to seek redress elsewhere if dissatisfied with the ruling. They included the Chairman of the NET, Donald Kaniaru, and two other members, Jane Dwasi and Evans Gaturu.

During the hearing, it came to light that KENHA had offered to compensate KWS to the tune of Kshs1.6 billion for the 4km section of Nairobi National Park that would have been encroached upon in order to buy alternative land.

The major accusation placed on the respondents was that KENHA and the Ministry of Roads were contravening the NEMA condition and that besides affecting the wildlife there, the road would have failed to adhere to civil aviation regulation that requires the preservation of a 570m buffer zone from a runway. The road is near the ever-busy Wilson Airport.

The Tribunal was extremely clear that while there was no actual encroachment, the likelihood of encroachment into Nairobi National Park was extremely high. Considering the witness statements, the design of the Southern Bypass and the testimony given by EIA Expert, Prof. Kibwagi, the three member tribunal ruled that there was imminent threat of encroachment in the park if construction was allowed to continue. They went so far as to berate NEMA, saying that the environment body ought to have declined to issue the license for the entire bypass based on this.

Lastly, the tribunal ruled that the application made by ANAW, EAWLS and Dr. Kahumbu was definitely not premature and thereby decided to allow it to explore whether constructing the road on the contentious section of the park would have been done in full compliance with the law on acquisition of the said land.

That the NEMA license has been cancelled means that there will be no road constructed through the park. This has led to celebrations for Kenya's conservation fraternity. Benson Wachira from ANAW expressed his excitement with the ruling pointing out that the Tribunal has now formally asked NEMA to be considering all laws when issuing EIA licenses.
On her part, Dr Kahumbu said; “the case was not one of environmentalists against development; it was about stopping impunity. It is a win for all Kenyans because we can now challenge any government agency hell-bent on disregarding the law.”
The EAWLS Director, Michael Gachanja, was equally pleased with the ruling; “I am delighted about the ruling because it sets a precedent that the Government cannot interfere with country’s protected areas without following the process of the law”.

For Further Questions;
Please contact:
1: Paula Kahumbu (Chairperson- Friends of Nairobi National Park) 0722-685106
Or
2: Josphat Ngonyo (ANAW Executive Director) -0722-243091.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 May 2013 17:42 )
 
Thursday, 16 May 2013 13:04    PDF Print E-mail
County Based Natural Resource Forums show their Leaders and Politicians the way

By Alex Ngari, Programme Coordinator EAWLS

The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) is supporting citizens empowerment in four priority counties to enable them take their rightful position in the governance of counties with regard to natural resources management. Through this initiative which started in 2012, people in the four counties namely Samburu, Nakuru, Kwale and Laikipia have formed stakeholder-based networks or forums with interest in natural resources subsector of their counties. Since the formation of the networks last year, it is evident that the natural resources subject is a key issue in the development of counties. The public is very much alive to the fact that their lives are intertwined with the natural resources not only those of their county but also those from distant counties. Their concerns are, therefore, founded when they are keen to develop an account of what they consider as big concerns as far as natural resource development is concerned ahead of county governments that are operational.

Armed with an account of challenges facing the natural resource development in their areas and a shared vision of what they would want the situation to be, they were determined to make their intentions known to the targeted leaders who would be in a position to contribute to addressing the identified problems. First on target were the governors and senators. The forums were determined to make their case known even before the politicians were elected and assumed offices.

The matters of natural wealth are usually weighty and were being directed to a section of leaders who are known to be slippery when it comes to such issues in Kenya. But generally, politicians will use all kinds of tricks and maneuvers to get their way out, including, just being away from a seemingly hot event or episode. So they dodge, dance, cause laughter, cajole just to endear themselves to the electorate as well as cool tempers. In February 2013, both Laikipia and Kwale forums were able to host would-be elected political leaders vying for both national and county seats. It was time for the forums to be categorical on what vision they had for a sustainable county. Once the forums were done, it was the turn of aspiring political leaders to speak out and commit themselves to what they would do once they were elected.

The Promises & Commitments
In both counties the promises were juicy and tasty to the people because most of them touched on what the forum’s members wanted their leaders to commit themselves to. In Kwale county, Mr. Nicholas Nzani, a senatorial aspirant promised that once elected he would advocate for 20% royalty from the mining of Kwale County’s Natural Resource to the county which will be used for development of the county, support laws and policies on sustainable use of Natural Resources, be a mouth piece for the communities of the county and pursue title deeds for Kaya forests, to wade off land grabbers, look into Carbon markets, (citing Gazi as a potential site), support passing of a law to promote access of information as a way of empowering the public, hence, better decision making and participation among other very good-to-hear things. On his part Mr. Nyanje, a gubernatorial aspirant indicated that once elected he would promote proper cost benefit analysis on development programmes and projects, work to ensure that better decision making was achieved by involving the public among other commitments which would ensure sustainability.

In Laikipia Mr. Joshua Irungu a gubernatorial aspirant, had the following promises: uphold his passion about community based approach to conservation, ensure all the natural resources within Laikipia County are properly managed for the benefit of all, reduce household usage of wood fuel as the main source of cooking energy by 50%, promote farm forestry by ensuring that 10% of every farm has trees, take advantage of carbon credit trade to benefit people and the environment, ensure trickle down of revenue to communities, cooperate and work together with the Laikipia County Natural Resource Network. Mr. Mathenge who was vying for the senatorial seats promised that he would lead in formulation of laws that addressed the conservation and protection of natural resources in the county among other commitments. Other aspirants who attended the Laikipia meeting were: David Koskei, Munene Mwai, Jeremiah Lemiruni, Jane Putunoi and John Etir Eleman.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 May 2013 16:49 )
 
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