The Wildlife Conservation Professionals Association (WCPA) has welcomed the decree by the Head of State on the sharing of revenue generated from game parks, allowing host counties to get 50 percent of revenue.
For prudent use of the revenue by counties, Dr. Tuqa Jirmo, Secretary General of WCPA, urged the government to put in place a well-structured financial management system, audit mechanism and a transparent institution to oversee the administration of the revenue.
Dr. Jirmo said the communities that have established conservancies where wildlife is thriving will be the biggest beneficiaries of the revenue.
“The revenue shared with the counties will motivate the county governments to not only benefit from revenue but also take interest in wildlife and wildlife conservation areas and sanctuaries.
The revenue will not only end up in county government treasuries but will be further devolved to the local communities, who are living with wildlife and bear the cost of conservation daily,” said Dr. Jirmo in Mombasa.
Wildlife conservation has supported Kenya’s economy as well as put Kenya on the global map through tourism attractions,’’ he said, adding that despite the benefits wildlife population has declined significantly in recent years.
He attributed the decline to habitat loss, wildlife poaching, expansive agriculture, climate change, encroachment on wildlife sanctuaries, and blocking of migratory corridors.
“The threats to wildlife ecosystems are eating the bone in some areas where we have made some economic gains. To reverse this trend, the government has already taken the initiative of incentivizing by pronouncing revenue sharing,” he said.
For the revenue sharing to work, they recommend that the pronouncement be anchored in law. “In the past, similar efforts have been made, but they have not borne any fruit,” he said.
The professionals also called for the establishment of a revenue-sharing mechanism to address human-wildlife conflict, management, fire control, water and pasture access for wildlife, control poaching, opening up of wildlife corridors and suspension of land subdivisions near the protected areas where wildlife are thriving.
In the meantime, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has been struggling in wildlife management because it is overstretched due to lack of finance and only six national parks and reserves are generating enough revenue to run the operations and management across the country.
“The government should allocate adequate financial support to KWS operations and include the rehabilitation of some of the parks, which are referred to as paper parks, to standards that can generate revenue and meet conservation goals,” said Dr. Jirmo.
By Sadik Hassan