New bid to lift hunting ban
Story by JOHN MBARIA
Publication Date: 2/24/2007
The killing of wildlife for fun may be re-introduced in Kenya if the Government implements a new wildlife policy believed to have been influenced by the US, the Saturday Nation can exclusively reveal.
Kenya Wildlife Services rangers relocate an Elephant from Mwea to Tsavo Naional Park. Hunting animals for sport may be introduced in Kenya if a new policy is implemented
Released last Thursday, the draft policy calls for the lifting of the ban on hunting, and asks the Government to allow game ranchers and communities living in wildlife dominated areas to engage in cropping, culling, and sale of animals and their products.
It has also been learnt that these recommendations are a radical deviation from what communities in 18 of the 21 wildlife regions in the country had proposed during a nationwide views gathering exercise carried out by the National Wildlife Steering Committee.
Chaired by Major (retired) William J. Kamunge, the team of 15 people was supposed to “define national goals and aspirations” and collect views for revision of wildlife policy and legislation.
The team appointed by Tourism and Wildlife minister Morris Dzoro last year organised workshops countrywide in which interested parties aired their views on different aspects of wildlife management and conservation.
“We overwhelmingly said no to sport hunting,” said Mr Benedict Mwendwa Muli, who represented the Akamba Council of Elders. He said the sport would wipe out animals and would be of little benefit to communities living near wildlife conservation areas. “We requested the Government to assist us by re-stocking wildlife in Mwingi North, Kitui South and Yatta conservation areas so that we can start receiving tourists,” he said.
On December 11, 2006, the committee organised a meeting at Tom Mboya Labour College, Kisumu, in which 121 participants from Kericho, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Busia districts attended.
According to the workshop report, the participants proposed that families whose members had been killed by wildlife be given Sh10 million as compensation and pledged to “practise ecotourism and other non-consumptive activities.”
Earlier, on December 7, the team heard from 250 participants from Bomet, Narok and Maasai Mara group ranches who asked for support to set up tourist camps and to share the revenue generated from Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The sentiments seem to have been the same at Merica Hotel in Nakuru Town where 350 participants from Naivasha, Kericho, Koibatek Kinangop and Hell’s Gate said wildlife should be managed like the Constituency Development Fund.
But this contrasts the content of the draft policy seen by the Saturday Nation.
The 53-page document advises the government to give ranchers the right to kill and use animals at will.
“Land owners and communities have questioned the capacity of wildlife to pay its way ?(if) uses of wildlife (are) limited to only non-consumptive forms. They have called for the review of the bans to allow for sport hunting, cropping and other consumptive uses.”
It adds: “Granting user rights to land owners and communities living in wildlife areas will empower them to participate effectively in decision-making process and to benefit from the use of wildlife resources.”
But experts say although some of the proposals in the draft “sound reasonable”, they are against desires of most communities and there is little mention of the dangers posed by sport hunting.
Others say the position expressed in the draft was “bulldozed” into it by game ranchers operating under the auspices of the Kenya Wildlife Working Group as consultants seconded to the committee by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid).
Tourism and Wildlife assistant minister Kalembe Ndile is believed to have supported the ranchers from Laikipia, Nakuru and Machakos. Besides bankrolling the process with a Sh41 million, the US agency is reported to have hand-picked four consultants to draft the policy.
According to sources in the Kenya Wildlife Service, the four are Mr Nderitu Wachira a business development specialist, Dr Wilbur K. Ottichilo, a wildlife ecologist, Dr Patricia Kameri-Mbote and Mr Kanyi Kimondo who are environmental law specialists. That the agency funded the process and seconded the consultants is alluded to in the draft policy’s preamble. “The ministry with the support from the USAid Kenya appointed the financial management agency to manage the process and provide technical support of the policy analyst, ecologist and legal expert.”
However, we can also reveal that together with a Dr Brian Child, the experts had worked for USAid as consultants on a project that assessed the status of the country’s wildlife sector and which also asked Kenya to lift the ban on sport hunting and other uses that require killing of wildlife.
Their work culminated in a 68-page document that called for the enactment of a new law and policy that would allow “sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits” emanating from wildlife.
But queries have also been raised on why the Government accepted the US to finance a project that will have far-reaching implications on the future of local wildlife.
Mr Dzoro said USAid “came in and asked to facilitate the process.” He denied that the agency had taken part in drafting the policy. “All USAid did was to give us the money for organising workshops.”
He also ruled out the resumption of hunting in the country.