OUR STORY

The origin and growth of Kenya’s leading voice on wildlife conservation

THE BEGINNING

The process of establishing Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA) began in 2012 after several unsuccessful attempts by non-state actors in the sector to establish a national representative forum that would convene and advance the aspirations and interests of community and private landowners living with wildlife.

However, the strides that commenced the journey of developing a national grassroots conservancy movement in Kenya dates back to the mid-1990s when efforts towards wildlife policy, and legislative and institutional reforms in Kenya were reviewed and formulated.

It was envisaged that the registration and institutionalisation of an independent national organisation for wildlife conservation and management would lead to a structured and coordinated industry that would contribute to the sustainable management of biodiversity and empowerment of community and private landowners.

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 ensure that the national conservation association leverage and bargain power to advance their issues through policy advocacy at the national and regional levels, partnership with private sector and support from the international community.

The draft Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill of 2011 and the draft Conservancy Regulations of 2012 both explicitly recommended devolution of rights to landholders and the institutionalisation of the wildlife industry in Kenya.

Several 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 leaning study tour to the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) who already had a successful model of connecting the communities and organisations that manage and conserve Namibia natural resources. The aim 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.

OUR NAME

Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association was adopted as the official name of the national umbrella body for wildlife conservancies in Kenya during the National Feedback Workshop  with all the stakeholders involved in the process.

OUR GOVERNANCE STUCTURE

An interim board comprising 12 regional associations representatives were nominated by community and private conservancies as the main constituents of the association.  This enabled the organisation have a clear structure for engaging national and county government and other key stakeholders on their role in wildlife conservation and management.

OUR SECRETARIAT 

In April 2013, THE KWCA secretariat office was officially opened at Magadi Tenting Centre, Seminary Road off Magadi Road with Dickson Simiren Ole Kaelo and Gladys Warigia recruited as the Founding CEO and the Policy Coordinator respectively.

THE RISE OF A NATIONAL MOVEMENT

Since 2013, KWCA has grown in leaps and bounds and now boosts of a membership of over 100 conservancies in its few years of existence.

It has grown its capacity to engage in policy analysis, review and advocacy and expanded its human resource capacity from a staff of two to seven, developing its organisational policies through Community Conservancies Policy Support Program (CCSP), a four-year grant by USAID implemented in partnership with TNC.

Encouraged by the great strides made and motivated by our mandate to champion the collective interests of conservancies, we forge ahead.

Our impact would certainly not be possible without our dynamic members and the invaluable support of our Partners.