The Environment, Water and Natural Resources Cabinet nominee has promised to take stern action against poachers. “We will raise the penalties for those caught engaging in the illegal trade,” Prof Judi Wakhungu (pictured) told the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments Friday.
Data from the Kenya Wildlife Service shows an alarming rise in poaching. Last year, Kenya lost 384 elephants and 29 rhinos, compared to 289 elephants and 25 rhinos in 2011.
Lions, cheetahs, buffalo and zebra have also been targeted by poachers.
The KWS has responded by beefing up its armed ranger force and enhancing surveillance and intelligence.
However, poachers have continued to operate with impunity.
But yesterday, Prof Wakhungu said it would no longer be business as usual. She said under her watch, human-wildlife conflict would also be reduced.
She urged those living next to parks and game reserves to avoid the corridors mostly used by the animals.
Prof Wakhungu further said she would prioritise the restoration of water towers in the country. “We need to strike a balance between how to restore the forests while ensuring the lives of people who depend on this resources are not disrupted,” she said.
Less than seven per cent of the country is under forest cover and the government hopes to increase this figure to 10 per cent.
Asked how she will rectify the water shortages in the country, the nominee said more dams needed to be constructed. She also asked those in flood prone areas to store water.
With her many promises, deputy speaker Joyce Laboso asked her how she would implement all her good sounding ideas.
“I am a practical person. One I set out my goals, I will sure implement them to the letter,” she said.