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Marsabit County marks world wildlife day amid concerns over charcoal burning

Wildlife conservation holds great promise in slowing down desertification and other effects of climate change in arid and semi-arid regions of the country.

At the same time, charcoal burning activities and careless dumping of business and domestic waste have been cited as a threat to the environment in Marsabit County.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) assistant director in charge of the Northern conservation area Gideon Kebati said during a ceremony held at the Marsabit National Park headquarters to mark this year’s World Wildlife Day that conservancies established in Marsabit County have greatly enhanced the conservation of the local ecosystem.

Mr Kebati observed that the entities have helped cultivate good relations between communities and KWS hence minimising human-wildlife conflict.

The assistant director said employment has been created for local youths as game scouts who have assisted in protecting the wildlife hence contributing in the maintenance of security and containment of the poaching problem.

He observed that the service was extending its digitized services to cover the management and protection of wild animals to enhance timely response in times of emergency.

Stakeholders who included conservationists like the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and opinion leaders expressed their worry over rampant charcoal burning which they said needed to be controlled in order to conserve the environment.

NRT county director Daniel Basele pointed out that negative effects of climate like drought affect the conservation of wildlife through the depletion of pasture and water sources.

Mr Basele said concerted efforts were required to reverse the trend which threatens to advance the spread of desert.

He said that through the conservation of wildlife and the environment, the local communities are benefitting from the carbon credit and employment.

“NRT has employed 80 game scouts in the three conservancies at Milako, Shurr and Jaldesa-Songa,” he said adding that 246 students within Milako conservancy in Laisamis constituency have benefitted from a Sh 20 million bursary derived from carbon credit proceeds.

He added that plans to have communities for the other two conservancies benefit from carbon credit were at an advanced stage and urged residents to continue conserving trees and the environment.

Mr Basele advocated for joint patrols to contain charcoal burning which has taken a commercial angle saying it was turning out to be a danger to the fragile environment in the arid and semi-arid region.

Community Forest Association (CFA) chairman John Bule said the charcoal burning which was purely to provide fuel for domestic use at the household level had now taken a different dimension with the youth making it a full-time commercial venture.

Mr Bule also decried the careless dumping of garbage and refuse from medical outlets in Marsabit town and called for action to address the problem.

Marsabit Central Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) David Saruni directed the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Marsabit municipality to move with speed and contain the dumping menace.

The DCC urged residents to protect the environment by actively engaging in tree growing and preserving the existing forest cover.

The county conservator of forests Mark Lenguro told KNA that measures were being taken to contain the charcoal burning menace as the government explores ways of availing green affordable energy sources to the residents.

The concern was raised at a time when the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum announced plans to provide Kenyans with quality and affordable liquefied cooking gas and distribution of 4.4 million gas cylinders.

By Sebastian Miriti

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