By Joseph Muraya
Lack of space for wildlife is slowly emerging as the major challenge in conservation according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Acting Director William Kiprono. Kiprono said as the country continues to witness major infrastructure development like the Standard Gauge Railway, the wildlife has lost 40 percent of its initial land.
This, he added, had left wild animals prone to poachers although he said the government intends to purchase more land to compensate on the lost one.
“We are losing a lot of space…like around the Nairobi National Park we had Kitengela as a dispersal corridor which has now been lost,” he stated.
“The government is working with other partners to ensure that as much as we lose this space we acquire more.”
He said stakeholders can also lease their lands in effort to enhance the war against poaching. The director was speaking on Wednesday during a sensitisation meeting with non-governmental organisations involved in wildlife conservancy.
During the meeting, Kiprono appealed to the organisations to avoid giving conflicting information saying it negatively affects KWS efforts to eliminate poaching.
“KWS is the body given the mandate to have the figures and we have no reason to hide them,” he affirmed. “Poaching cannot be addressed by KWS alone…we need the community and all stakeholders but they must have the right information.”
Kiprono also urged various stakeholders dealing with animal welfare to also focus on small animals which he says are also endangered.
“We have so much concentrated on iconic species but some small animals are now endangered like antelopes and giraffes who are used as bush meat,” he lamented.
He further pointed out that tight measures have been put in place to curb the poaching menace.
Under the wildlife law which came into force last year, dealing in wildlife trophies carries a minimum fine of Sh1 million a minimum jail sentence of five years or both.
The most serious wildlife crimes, the killing of endangered animals now carry penalties of life imprisonment, as well as fines of up to Sh20 million.
Previously, punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes was capped at a maximum fine of Sh40, 000 and a possible jail term of up to 10 years. Video.