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Rushed wildlife bill portends trouble for vital Kenya resource

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You are here: Kenya News Rushed wildlife bill portends trouble for vital Kenya resource

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  Jan Thursday, 08 September 2011 12:17

Rushed wildlife bill portends trouble for vital Kenya resource

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Rushed wildlife bill portends trouble for vital Kenya resource


PAULA KAHUMBU, Africa Review
September 8  2011


Elephant and rhino poachers and dealers are having it easy in Kenya due to the weak penalties in the current Wildlife Act of 1978. But despite the proposed stringent regulations in the new draft Bill, 17 prominent conservationists have objected to the entire process of drafting the Policy and Bill which went for stakeholder comments on August 29.

The stakeholders conference which was held at the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, was described by many as a rubber stamping exercise. Participants had been given less than a week to prepare – it simply was not enough time for people from the far reaches of the country to digest the two legal documents. These new legislations will impact on tens of millions of Kenyans who are affected by wildlife.

Among the objectors include two former Directors of the KWS, Dr Richard Leakey and Michael Wamithi who have jointly written a letter to the PS Wildlife, Mohammed Wa-Mwachai objecting to the process of development of the Bill and Policy which lacked transparency and legitimate stakeholder consultation. They vowed not to legitimize the process by sending in comments by the deadline. Instead they are demanding that more time is given to ensure that Wildlife Policy and Bill are progressive and address the broad principles in the new Constitution, namely environmental sustainability and devolved environmental governance.

It's not that there hasn’t been enough time for the process – it started back in 2007 and we had every opportunity to create a progressive Wildlife Policy and Bill that positioned Kenya in her rightful position as a leader in wildlife conservation in Africa. But that did not happen. What we got was a muddled, half-baked document that threatens wildlife more than protects it.

What’s glaringly missing from the process is stakeholder participation. It is unreasonable to expect comments from all corners of the country in just a week. Stakeholders need to time to read, digest, translate, ask questions and share with their constituents before coming up with their comments. This should take months to weed out the inconsistencies and errors that make the Bill unworkable.

For example, Page 3 under Arrangement of clauses Part VI Conservation and management of wildlife 43: Exchange of part of a protected area with private land – turn to section 43 refers to creation of national parks. The provision mentioned in the contents does not exist in the document. How did a document with such glaring errors go to stakeholder consultation? What exactly are we rubber stamping?

Top down approach
The Bill provides for the creation of three centres of power in the wildlife sector relating to wildlife, A directorate, an Authority and a Service. It’s hard enough to finance KWS from park fees, how will these two other organisations be financed?

By creating new power bases for wildlife conservation, this new Wildlife Bill plays lip service to the new constitution which calls for devolution of the management of natural resources to the lowest possible level. The Bill does not create meaningful opportunities for benefit sharing, incentives and rewards for conservation.

The Bill instead is a heavy handed top down approach to conservation, and it will never work. Take wildlife conservancies for example. Even though they already abound in Kenya on private and community land, the new Bill seeks to tax and control these privately-managed conservation areas.

Article at the following link:  http://www.africareview.com/Opinion/-/979188/1232432/-/1407hfa/-/index.html

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You are here Kenya News Rushed wildlife bill portends trouble for vital Kenya resource