KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE
GRANTED LICENCE TO FLY
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has granted the
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) a commercial licence to fly tourists
to Northern Kenya.
The one-year licence restricts flights to areas around Sibiloi
National Park in Turkana, Marsabit National Park and Malka
Mari National Park on the Ethiopia-Kenya border between
Mandera and Moyale.
We are pleased that the non scheduled passenger air service
licence provides us with an opportunity to play a leading role in
opening up parts of the country that are remote yet significant
where other commercial air operators don’t fly. We are excited
at the prospects of enabling tourists and researchers to access
the cradle of mankind around Lake Turkana.
Other air operators are expected to start flights once the KWS
non scheduled passenger air service shows that the business is
Most of Kenya’s tourism is concentrated in the southern circuit
around Amboseli and the Maasai Mara leaving enormous
potential in Northern and Western regions.
The KWS Airwing, based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, has been a
huge expense on the Service, especially because the costs of
running 12 aircraft and 14 pilots, which on average costs Sh4.5
million per month.
KCAA is finalising the process of approving a 7-seater
helicopter, 13-seater caravan and 4-seater Cessna aircraft for
the non-scheduled passenger air services.
The commercial service is meant to help KWS Airwing, a critical
ingredient in Kenya's efforts to protect and manage wildlife,
raise revenue to meet part of its costs for conservation work.
It is also meant to open up to tourists least visited national parks
in remote areas of the country as part of the Vision 2030 which
has tourist as one of its core pillars.
KWS has nine other aircraft for anti-poaching and conservation
work permanently stationed in Nakuru, Tsavo, Lamu, Meru,
Marsabit and Aberdare National Parks.
Two of the KWS pilots have Airline Transport Pilot Licenses while
four have the Commercial Pilot Licence. Besides these, KWS has
five reserve pilots, including Mr Joe Obrian, the Swiss
Ambassador to Kenya.
KWS plans to get an aircraft to be stationed in Kitale to cover
conservation efforts in the Western region. All the other
conservation areas have aircrafts.
of 585,000 km square, the KWS Airwing is permanently on
standby to fly into action anywhere in Kenya, either for
routine monitoring and conservation field trips or security
operations, search and rescue missions well as emergency
evacuations.With 59 national parks and reserves spread over a country
budget of about Sh4.5 million a month including fuel and
aircraft maintenance.The KWS Airwing was launched in 1990 and works on a
national parks that lies about 560 km from Nairobi, is one
of Kenya's most quiet and remote
the scenic and serene Lake Paradise on top of Mt
Marsabit, elephants, Greater Kudu, mountain lions,
buffalos and other wildlife. The extensive forest supports
animals that would not normally be found in arid northern
Kenya. There are elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards,
cheetahs, buffaloes, wart hogs, Grevy's Zebra, reticulated
giraffes, hyenas and antelopes.
Abundant rare birds are also found within Marsabit
National Park. Many water birds hang out at Lake
Paradise and a variety of raptors can be seen on the
shaggy cliffs and in the treetops. Marsabit National Park
was home to Ahmed, an elephant that was given 24-hour
protection by a presidential order. Ahmed, who boasted
some of the biggest tusks ever recorded, died at age 55.Marsabit National Park, another of Kenya's remotenational parks. It has
international significance as the cradle of mankind and
teems with fossils, zebras, gazelles and impala. It is near
Lake Turkana with its world famous population of
scenic landscapes on the shores of Lake Turkana. The
park was partially established through the initiative of the
National Museums of Kenya to protect unique prehistoric
and archeological sites, some of which are linked to the
origin of man. The fossils include a crocodile
brumptiSibiloi National Park which was gazetted in 1973 hasThe park covers 1570 Km2 of wilderness withEuthecodon, giant tortoise Petusios broadleyi, elephant
shore, dry semi desert bush and near desert country. The
park is waterless apart from the alkaline waters of the lake.and the petrified forest. The terrain is lake
high wildlife concentration. It is located along the Daua River
on the Kenya-Ethiopia border in the extreme north east of
Kenya on the Mandera plateau. It has a hot and dry climate.
The area is largely semi arid bush land and scrubby grassland
with riparian woodland and palms along the Daua River. The
area is also considered a site for plant endemism.
Its main attractions are; Malka Mari fort, hills and valleys.
Unfortunately, it has not been developed.Malka Mari National Park was gazetted in 1989 because of its
national parks and reserves across the country in the last
couple of years at a cost of Sh45 million, including those in
remote areas.KWS has invested heavily in tourism infrastructure in many
a cost of Sh55 million in Meru (Mulika, Kinna, Masanduku)
and Lake Nakuru (Naishi) national parks. KWS plans to
spend a further Sh1 billion in the next two years on
improving roads, bridges and airstrips in various national
parks and reserves across the country.Various airstrips have been upgraded to tarmac status at
a drive to realise Kenya’s target of 5 million tourists per year by
2012. Already, KWS is planning to build airstrips in Ruma
National Park (Homa Bay) and Mt Elgon National Park near
Kitale Town. In the near future, more airstrips will be upgraded,
including one at Voi in Tsavo East National Park, Kamboyo in
Tsavo West National Park and Mweiga in the Aberdare
National Park. Each region has an aircraft for patrols and other
conservation activities.Opening up of the domestic airspace is one of the key cogs in
For more information on the commercial air
licence, please contact:
Maj (Rtd) Solomon Nyanjui
Head of KWS Airwing (www.kws.org)