A NEW DAWN
Fast forward to 2010… the promulgation of the Constitution provided for a decentralised system of governance for the management of wildlife resources in non-protected areas by landowners.
This saw a renewed vigor to establish a national conservation association to advance wildlife conservancy issues through policy advocacy at the national and regional levels, partnership with private sector and support from the international community.
The draft of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill of 2011 and the Conservancy Regulations of 2012 both explicitly recommended devolution of rights to landholders and the institutionalisation of the wildlife industry in Kenya.
Buoyed up by this development, stakeholders in the wildlife sector, led by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and representatives from Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (AET), Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), Maasai Mara Group Ranches, South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and World Wide Fund Kenya (WWF-Kenya), rallied together, holding consultative meetings with the government to drive this historic agenda.
This culminated in a learning study tour to the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations (NACSO) who already had a successful model of connecting the communities and organisations that manage and conserve Namibia natural resources. The aim of the tour was to unearth how the same concept can be replicated in Kenya.
AN ALL-INCLUSIVE APPROACH
After the study tour, TNC and other partners raised funds for consultative meetings across the eight conservancy regions in the country with over 600 conservation leaders from government, non-governmental conservation organisations, community and private conservancies, religious leaders and politicians. The leaders were intensively engaged in these consultative meetings to gain consensus and buy in.
A national consultative forum of 140 participants drawn from landowners, regional and community associations, governments and conservation NGOs was then held in Nairobi.
A unanimous agreement was reached of the need to create a national umbrella body that would champion the interests and represent the collective desires of Kenyan communities and private landowners in wildlife and natural resources management.
Political goodwill from the government through KWS who have the mandate over wildlife resources in the country (Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013) helped steer the process in the right direction. Their vast network and reach across the country made mobilisation of participation across the country through the Community Wildlife Service department possible.
Soon thereafter, a consultative forum with private sector stakeholders in the conservancy sector was held to solicit input towards the development of the national conservancies association.
In December 2012, KWCA was endorsed and legally registered in April 2013 under the Societies Act.