Kenya celebrates the inaugural World Wildlife Day
The last several months since the beginning of the year have been bitter-sweet for wildlife conservation and animal welfare in Kenya. With the passing of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill, wildlife traffickers and poachers will now face stiffer penalties if found guilty. However the number of wildlife killed, particularly rhinos, has increased alarmingly!
These were some of the sentiments echoed by conservationists at the inaugural World Wildlife Day event held at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters on 3rd March.
The theme for this year’s event was My Wildlife, My Heritage, My Responsibility.
To sensitize the public on the day, participants carrying banners and led by the KWS band, walked several hundred meters from the Uhuru Gardens to the KWS headquarters. On arrival at the headquarters, participants walked around the ten exhibition stands one of which had been set up by IFAW.
The stand was an instant hit with the hundreds of participants!
Those that visited the stand were spoilt for choice in the number of publications they could browse through, read and carry away for future reference. The photo gallery and TV screen that displayed images of IFAW-supported activities including collaring, community scout training and the signing of the Kitenden corridor land lease, were also crowd-pullers as were the soft toys which caused quite a scramble! Numerous enquiries were made regarding how IFAW would support youth groups working in conservation, to how one could join the community scouts training.
Speaking at the gathering the KWS Director-General Mr. William Kiprono, called on every stakeholder to take responsibility for wildlife protection and conservation. “We all have a part to play in ensuring that our wildlife is safe. We know who the poachers are and we need to expose them,” he stated.
He was also concerned about the rate of human settlement and encroachment on land for wildlife:
“If we are not careful, in the next few years Nairobi National park will become a zoo; we need to set aside resources to secure space for wildlife. Elephants need space since livestock and activities such as charcoal burning are competing with wildlife and destroying the habitat,” he added. On the dwindling numbers of rhinos due to poaching Mr. Kiprono stated, “Those arrested in connection with this will be dealt with irrespective of their position.”
During the event, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Richard Lesiyampe, who spoke on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu, called on a symbiotic relationship amongst all stakeholders to ensure proper interpretation of the new law.
For more information about IFAW efforts to combat wildlife crime, visit our campaign page.