KWS and KWCA Formalize Partnership to Foster Conservation on Private and Community Land
Posted: 5th Apr 2017 12:00:00 PM
On 28th March 2017, KWS and KWCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen technical cooperation and to provide a framework for collaboration in conservation and wildlife management outside state protected areas. Two-thirds of Kenya's wildlife utilize community and private lands.
Kenya's biggest conservation challenge include loss of space, human wildlife conflict, poaching and wildlife crime is best addressed by engaging landowners in a mutually beneficial approach.
Speaking during the signing ceremony witnessed by over 120 conservancy leaders and partners at the KWCA 2nd National Conservancy Leader's Policy Conference, KWCA Chairperson, Mr. Tom Lalampaa, said signing of the MOU reflected a high level of commitment by KWS to strengthen wildlife policies and develop incentives for landowners to benefit from their wildlife conservation efforts. He thanked KWS for the incredible support its staff had already given to conservancies at the county level and importantly for their involvement in the formation of KWCA. "The voice of landowners is critical for dialogue with government" he said.
KWS Director General Kitili Mbathi, noted that recent declines in wildlife poaching was attributable to the growing collaboration between communities and KWS rangers and if sustained it would represent an opportunity for Kenya to curb illegal harvesting of wildlife species. He recognized KWCA as an important stakeholder for KWS and was ready to work with KWCA to promote wildlife conservation in the country. "KWS, communities and the landowners' goal is to conserve Kenya's wildlife therefore this strategic alliance through the MOU is important in securing the future of our heritage." He said.
Mr Kitili Mbathi noted that national parks had a finite area of land which could not be expanded and expressed optimism that through conservancies, it would be possible to have more space for wildlife. "We have only 23 terrestrial national parks in the country and we cannot increase them since land is not available. Your role in creating more land for wildlife is therefore critical to conservation. We shall work together by helping you in your already established conservancies to continue with conservation for the benefit of all of us." He said.
According to Mr. Kitili Mbathi, the biggest challenge facing wildlife conservation is space and conflict. Space can only be expanded outside protected areas and the solution to conflict is also found within conservancies. However, community members need to be educated on conservation, and compensation made possible for conflict claims for wildlife conservation to flourish.
While the compensation laws were generous, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources had not been able to pay the compensation claims to claimants in communities, due to inadequate funds allocated to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Mr. Kitili Mbathi called on the landowners to work with the Ministry to create innovative methods of sustainable financing of conservancies such as an insurance scheme to pay for compensation claims in which the MOU served as a road map and agreement to guide this innovation.
Under the MOU, KWCA and KWS will work jointly to implement the Wildlife Act and promote conservation outside state protected areas. The two organizations will partner to support development of the country's conservation strategy, ecosystem plans and conservancy management plans. KWCA will support registration of conservancies, conservancy rangers and in the training of rangers beyond para military skills to build capacity in community engagement, monitoring and human wildlife conflict mitigation.
The two organizations will work together to help the ministry develop and implement incentives and benefit sharing arrangements to encourage land owners participate in wildlife conservation. Capacity building of County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committees (CWCCCs) was also identified as a key area of cooperation.
In addition to three positions designated to private and community conservancies at the KWS board of trustees, the MOU, will foster a strong relationship between KWS as a custodian of wildlife in Kenya and landowners as stewards of wildlife and its habitat.
Similarly, the MoU signed provides an institutional basis for the two organizations to cooperate with each other to curb poaching in conservancies and national parks.