Cabinet Secretary Wildlife and Tourism Endorses Conservancies and Pledges Support
“Every acre of land added to conservation through conservancies is a win for wildlife and tourism. Conservancies should be seen as complimentary to KWS parks as it is the right way to create space for Wildlife and should never be seen to be in competition.”
CS Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala
On 6th March, the Cabinet Secretary for Wildlife and Tourism Hon Najib Balala hosted KWCA at his offices to brief him on the progress, opportunity and challenges of conservancies in Kenya and to formulate a framework for engagement between the ministry and the conservancies network. The meeting was a follow up meeting after a visit by the CS to the Maasai Mara conservancies where our CEO Mr. Dickson Kaelo was represented and a follow up meeting agreed with conservancy representatives in Nairobi to formulate an engagement to strengthen conservancies in Kenya.
Kenya’s conservancies though nascent have positioned the country in the global map as a leader in community based conservation. There currently exists 160 conservancies for which 89% are community managed and which involve over 700,000 households. Conservancies also play a critical role in the conservation of biodiversity, expansion and diversification of tourism and rural development. Over 2,900 community rangers support KWS rangers in improving security for tourists and wildlife and the 140 tourist eco-lodges and eco-camps provide 2,397 tourism beds and employ a growing number of Kenyans.
Under his leadership, Hon Najib Balala, expressed optimism in working with all conservation stakeholders and called on them to work together to support KWS become stronger to be able to fulfill its mandate in the conservation and management of the country’s national heritage.
“I have faith and trust in KWS. We all have a role to play to ensure that KWS is sustainable during this crucial time. I encourage donors to continue funding KWS as the national lead agency responsible for the management, conservation and protection of wildlife. By working together, we will not only stem the rising tide, but continue driving progress for all conservation stakeholders.” He said.
KWCA, CAK and the Cabinet Secretary agreed to have a working meeting to discuss areas of partnership as follows:-
- Policy development: Fast rack the gazetting of the wildlife policy and pending 14 wildlife regulations; finalise the wildlife strategy; operationalise the wildlife research and training institute (WCMA section 50); Fast track registration of conservancies, issuance of wildlife user rights licenses and gazetting of management and ecosystem plans.
- Financing and incentivising Conservancies: Set up the national wildlife conservation fund incorporating a conservancies grant facility; exemption for conservation fees, stamp duty waiver on land leased for wildlife conservation through registered conservancies and zero rating tax on specific items for conservancy management such as ranger patrol vehicles, uniforms etc; Link conservancies investments with funding provided by state agencies, Tourism Fund, Kenya Industrial Training Institute, Climate change and Green Fund; Map out critical habitats threatened by conversion into non compatible land uses to be able to secure such habitats through a land bank
- Involvement of communities in Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs): To support representatives from conservancies representing Kenya in CITES processes including the rural community working group and Conventions on Biodiversity (CBD) and other MEAs
- Partnership with National agencies and County Government: Liaise with the council of governors and their respective counties to support conservancies through direct funding Market conservancies as a niche tourism destination at Kenya’s marketing efforts by the Kenya Tourism Board
- Address Human Wildlife Conflict: Partner in developing and Implementing human wildlife conflict measures to reduce conflicts in Kenya’s landscapes.