Kenya still has a significant wildlife resource but over 60% of that resource resides outside the protected area system. Traditionally the management of that wildlife has been the responsibility of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). However the 2010 Constitution has changed that responsibility in that it recognizes Public, Private and Community land as distinct entities falling under different management responsibilities. This brings into focus the need for change because many species do not stay in protected areas and venture into human-inhabited areas thus leading to human-wildlife conflict, which is in turn leading to an increasing disharmony between communities and KWS.
The evidence for this is reflected in Kitengela where six (6) lions were recently killed; the July 2012 Maasai community demonstrations in Amboseli; and the recent trampling of a woman by an elephant in the Mara that almost halted the tourism business. It is essential to reverse this tension, by recognizing wildlife conservation and management as a form of land use on all three categories of land and having the land users derive and enjoy benefits in order to offset costs and ensure the value and management of wildlife no longer decline. The existing 1975 legislation does not address these needs. It is therefore, important that a new law be quickly enacted to properly address these realities.
Kenya is losing its wildlife and yet tourism which is recognized as a key economic driver in Vision 2030 is significantly dependant on this wildlife resource. The decline has come about because the dynamics of human coexistence with nature and particularly wildlife have changed as a result of increased population, unfettered encroachment by agriculture and urbanisation and the lack of wildlife user rights being recognized on community and private land. There is an urgent need to change this dynamic, as recognized in the 2010 Constitution.
A draft Bill and Policy have been fashioned which recognizes that over 60% of Kenya’s wildlife exists outside its protected areas on community and private land. Issues in regard to user rights, incentives, benefit sharing mechanisms, compensation, poaching deterrents and reducing the ever growing problems of human wildlife conflict have been duly considered, in a way that the existing legislation fails to do.
In this regard, we advocate for the quick approval and enactment of the draft 2012 Wildlife Policy and the draft 2012 Wildlife Bill.
The type of law Kenya urgently needs therefore is as follows:
A law that:
||Provides clear rules and regulations to guide the process and procedure for benefit sharing and generation of revenue;
||Mainstreams the needs and aspirations of landowners and communities in wildlife areas into wildlife conservation planning and decision making process;
||Ensures greater protection and conservation of wildlife outside protected areas;
||Provides deterrent penalties to wildlife poaching;
||Provides incentives to communities to be engaged in wildlife conservation;
||Strengthens governance at local level by substantially removing regulatory functions at the top and bringing such functions to counties.
||Provides local governance structures, for example, County Wildlife Conservation Committees to undertake the facilitation of user rights and licensing, in line with the decentralization process required by the Constitution;
||Creates local governance structures that will participate at the County level in land use planning initiatives and in consultation with all relevant stakeholders with particular regard to critical wildlife habitats, corridors and dispersal areas for the better management and conservation of wildlife;
||Creates institutions (local and national) that are consistent with the Constitution and that would help reduce institutional conflicts in regard to mandates.
Where are we on the draft 2012 Wildlife Policy and Bill?
In 2010 the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife reviewed the draft policy and 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 also harmonize the Policy and 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 has led to a final draft of the Policy and Bill being completed in April 2012, which also addresses the needs listed above. The understanding was that the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife would then put the two drafts into the Public Domain and promote their passage through Cabinet and onto Parliament via the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution and the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Land with inputs provided by good public comment. Five months later this has not happened.
It is the right time for the public and Members of Parliament to demand this process is activated without further delay.