Tourism and Wildlife Principal Secretary(PS) Dr. Susan Koech Tuesday opened the Global Wildlife Program(GWP) Annual Conference, aimed at discussing wildlife conservation and Global Wildlife programs in different countries across the world.
Speaking at the event, Koech stated that Wildlife conservation is inextricably linked to Kenya’s economic development and that Kenya owes its global reputation as a leading safari destination to the magnificent wildlife and the memorable experiences they provide for the visitors.
“This conference is co-hosted by the government, which is a symbol of Kenya’s interest to safeguard its wildlife and partner with like-minded stakeholders and development partners,” she said.
The PS noted that 70% of total income from Tourism in Kenya is from wildlife-based tourism in the country. “The government will continue putting efforts to counter illegal wildlife trade and trafficking, habitat loss and fragmentation, biodiversity loss and destruction, among other issues that threaten our wildlife,” said Koech.
The PS disclosed that Kenya is on course in the implementation of the Combating Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trafficking Project, which focuses on Maasai Mara and Tsavo Landscape Ecosystems.
“This project is part of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Programmatic Approach to Prevent the Extinction of known threatened species in Kenya,” she said.
Dr. Koech further stated that the project is aimed at combatting poaching and reducing illegal wildlife trafficking through the implementation of 4 strategies namely, the strengthening national and local capacity for effective IWT control in Kenya, reducing poaching and illegal wildlife trade in threatened species in Tsavo and Maasai Mara Ecosystems, strengthening Community Wildlife Conservancies in Tsavo and Maasai Mara Ecosystems and knowledge Management, Monitoring & Evaluation and Gender Mainstreaming.
“Conservancies are the best successful models of wildlife economy in Kenya and therefore they require stronger financial sustainability foundations to ensure long-term viability,” said the PS.
“Over 930,000 households directly benefit from wildlife conservancies in Kenya providing job opportunities to over 4,500 conservancy employees,” she added.
At the same time, the Ministry has also developed the Wildlife Policy 2020, which recognizes wildlife as a viable and competitive land use option in Kenya and aims to offer social, economic, and conservation incentives to landowners who have wildlife on their land.
“We will continue to offer leadership in the wildlife sector through coordination and partnerships to ensure wildlife is protected, conserved and sustainably utilized for national development,” said the PS.
Speaking at the same forum, GWP Coordinator Dr. Adriana Moreira lauded the government’s continued efforts in curbing illegal wildlife trafficking, trade and poaching.
She however stated that more can be done to strengthen law enforcement, border controls and intelligence gathering.
“I cannot over-emphasize the need for us to continue working together in order to enhance and promote the wildlife economy for maximum returns from wildlife conservation in Kenya,” said Moreira.
By Michael Mulinge and Ella Elizabeth