Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra requested wildlife for the zoo during a meeting late last year with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. The Chiang Mai Night Safari Park is a project launched by Shinawatra and animals from other countries have been requested from private zoos and donors. Conservationists in Kenya and the world have expressed concerns over the request.
“Kenya has its history been seen as a strong advocate for pro-conservation policies. To export wildlife to live in confined areas away from their natural habitats is subjecting them to unnecessary stress and suffering that will ultimately reduce their quality of life, if they even survive the long haul flight from Kenya to Bangkok,” said James Isiche, East Africa Regional Director for IFAW.
“For the Government to quote precedence dating back centuries ago is missing the point. The bigger picture today is that Kenya’s wildlife populations are generally on the decline due to poaching, habitat loss and land use changes. Was the prevailing environment and other factors considered as this drastic decision was made?”
“By shipping wildlife to Thailand in this day and age, Kenya will be setting a dangerous precedence that may result in other requests for similar gifts from other states. Are we really doing right by the future generations when we ship their heritage to other countries?” added Isiche.
“IFAW believes that there are many more direct and proactive ways for the two governments to co-operate in the tourism and wildlife sector, and that these ways should have been exploited without having to export live animals from Kenya,” said Isiche.
“A comprehensive policy solution to address challenges in the sector such as human-wildlife conflicts, land use changes need to be developed by the Government as this is a major problem affecting local communities and wildlife, that is prevalent throughout the country and can attract global goodwill if well articulated,” commented Isiche.