In Kenya, the field of conservation is facing a major challenge due to human driven activities and lack of government’s full support to end some activities which pose a threat to wildlife.
Some of the growing concerns I have personally realized and should be addressed with great concern include the following techniques used in villages to capture or obtain wildlife resources from their original setting:
1.Hunting using arrows
The rate at which wild animals are hunted in Kenya is worrying. In some communities, this exercise still exists and it should be stopped immediately failure to which we will lose our biodiversity faster than we can imagine. A lot of concentration has been focused on conservation of the big animals. Are you aware that every week we lose small animals trough poaching such as hares, deer, antelopes, gazelles among others? I am not just saying it out to make a story; I have witnessed this happen in my village and its surroundings, it is even worse around Kapnarok National reserve and its surrounding environs, all this happening in Baringo. Poachers go out in numbers of about ten on Sundays as part of leisure activity and in the evening they come back home carrying meat, two or three animals are killed in every single day they go out hunting, in the process they also kill some other animals e.g. snakes and birds whereby the bird’s feathers are used in making arrow tails. I don’t blame the hunters for their act for they think they are just having their fun and out of it they get some meat in return. The problem is that the government has failed in creating public awareness about the importance of conserving wild animals. Also, the government fails to enforce the existing laws that seek to protect the wild flora and fauna. In the past people depended on wild meat in their communities and villages for food. Hunting was a good source of protein, up to date, I wonder why such practices still exist within our vicinity and yet we have bodies within government that are mandated to monitor, manage and conserve natural resources.
2.Use of animal traps
The government should come forth to fight the rapidly growing poaching and over-harvesting of wildlife resources. Efforts should be put forward towards protecting our own animals at home, in the wilderness, in the lakes, seas, rivers, oceans and farms.
The government should come together with conservationists, environmentalists and other stakeholders including members of public and head out to hotspots to remove snares set up to trap animals that are fatal to wildlife. Lethal snares are set by poachers in the camouflage of bushes ready to trap the animals. The poachers target the diverse wildlife inhabitants including zebras, antelopes, impala, buffaloes, gazelles, waterbucks and bush bucks among other animals. One day I stumbled on the body of a dead fawn in the bush. The fawn had been strangled by the neck with a wire. It got caught in the snare trying to go through the thick bush. The fawn had been in the trap for a considerable time since its carcass was desiccated, the skin hardened onto the skeleton. A quick look at the carcass one could tell that the animal had been there for many days. Even if I had raised any concern by looking deep into the issue to discover animal defense mechanism, I couldn’t probably have made any impact because of the brutality and ignorance of the greedy KWS rangers and whose mandate is to protect wildlife and create alternatives for people to coexist with wildlife. The government should try out a way to scour several habitats to find these snares. Snares bring pain, suffering and death of animals. We should help end the suffering of wildlife in poaching hotspots where animals roam freely. This will help in restoring the wildlife population and ensuring proper protection and care to end the growing threat, bush meat trade.
The Kenyan constitution Under article 69(1) provides that the state shall protect genetic resources and biological diversity, Article 69, 1(g).eliminate processes and activities that are likely to endanger the environment) 69(2), every person has a duty to cooperate with state organs and other persons to protect and conserve the environment and ensure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources.
3.Catching fish with poison
In my own studies carried out in my village of origin, I learnt that some native inhabitants use some plant species to stun fish and simply scoop them out of water. I managed to discover two native plants used to capture fish in the area despite the practice being illegal. These plants are Thephrosia vilosa and Warburgia ugandensis.
This poison works in such a manner that it affects the ability of the fish to breathe. The fish basically suffocates or passes out until they access fresh clean water in order for them to return to normal, this poison is normally not fatal, unless the fish is exposed to high doses for a long period of time. The plant’s leaves are first picked and crushed using a sack until a thick green mixture is obtained and the sack is carefully tied so that the leaves do not come out of the bag, the bag is then placed in the pool and it is rinsed thoroughly so that the juice comes out as it mixes with the water. The best targets are slow flowing streams that have distinct pools, the flow of water is blocked by making a temporary dam to block the flow or simply decrease the flow enough to slow down the rate of dilution. The good thing about the large water bodies and fast flowing streams is that it is not practical to employ the tact because the sheer size of the water body and constant influx of fresh clean water quickly dilute the poison for it to be effective or before it can be effective.
The risk of the using the herbs is that it leads to massive killing of fingerlings, some adult fish and other macro invertebrates in the stream or river.
The government of Kenya together with other conservation agencies should collaborate in an attempt to end loss of wildlife as a result of illegal human activities.