Are we killing Conservation?

(Source:Ministry of Tourism-Kenya facebook page)
From CS’s statement, keeping wildlife for tourism alone is not productive enough in utilizing the resource. This comes with the hope that the consumptive utilization could not open doors for hunting of wildlife. In 2013, Wildlife Conservation & management Bill was drafted and those who drafted the bill used the word “cropping”. They define it as “harvesting of wildlife for their products”. The inclusion and justification of “cropping” in the Bill is the culmination of a long running scheme to prime Kenya’s wildlife for joyous killing by those who are still in love with the blood sport. Previously, consumptive utilization of wildlife led to severe decline in the populations of targeted wildlife forcing the government to place a ban on hunting wildlife in 1977; the ban was under legal notice No. 120 issued by the then President the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. (Source: Kenya gazette) 

 

In 1990,According to Kenyans united against poaching (KUAPO) a pilot project was undertaken and from the observation and statistics, it showed a huge decline in the number of wildlife species in areas where cropping was taking place. Poaching increased in Kenya throughout cropping period, there was a large disconnect in the communities, the project lacked fundamental information to ensure sustainability, methods used to count animals were not species-specific yielding unreliable results-. This deemed a failure seeing the pilot project reveal inadequacies of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in effectively managing a consumptive utilization project. Trophy hunting is hunting of wild animals as a leisure activity (“trophy” means any protected animal, game animal, or game bird alive or dead, and any bone, claw, egg, feather, hair, hoof, skin, tooth, tusk or other durable portion whatsoever of that animal or bird or fish or other aquatic life whether processed, added to or changed by the work of man or not, which is recognizable as such as durable portion); Definition-.  According to wildlife conservation and management act 2013. Trophies of hunted game are taken as personal record of successful hunt. Trophy hunting has some important benefits for communities in areas such as education, employment, income and meat. Trophy hunting may generate a lot of revenue to the government increasing the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), food security, job creation and livelihood support thus creating coexistence between communities and wildlife. Local people will support this because it provides secure employment. Sport hunting produces significant income through hunting fees, safari costs, (guides, accommodation, trophy fees, and e.t.c) which can be reinvested in conservation programmes. Game farming is the confinement of wild animal species where they are fed and grown to a certain required weight and exploited for consumptive use. 

According to Eltrigham (1984), wild animal species that are farmed are no longer truly wild and represent an intermediate stage between wild and domesticated species. On the other hand, Game ranching comprises the maintenance of wild animals in defined areas delineated by fences. The animals are managed in natural vegetation although the habitat may be manipulated to improve the production efficiency. Animals on these ranches may be exploited for meat but most ranches may be exploited for trophy hunting and ecotourism.

The government will benefit a lot from such project, but one question we are asking is, will this money make its way to the community?  Then if so, the locals will not have to opt for a supplement of their income through illegal poaching. In areas with poor management where quotas are not set properly, hunting can be unsustainable thus leading to damage to the wildlife populations.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) species survival commission (SSC) states that “well managed trophy hunting can provide both revenue and incentives for people to conserve and restore wild populations, maintain areas of land for conservation and protect wildlife from poaching.”

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) provides a legal basis for trophy hunting to take place, recognizing the distinction between strictly governed sustainable use and illegal exploitation of wildlife linked to international organized crime.

As much as we want to engage in Trophy hunting activities, we are sure that this will bring forth financial incentives to promote and retain wildlife as long as hunting quotas are set correctly and adhered to. Many iconic species (rhinoceroses, elephants, leopards, cheetahs and lions), especially those favored by trophy hunters are in a sharp decline due to widespread poaching and habitat loss. It can also result into undesirable evolutionary consequences and changing population demographics. A study has shown that among the six African countries where trophy hunting is practiced; South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania, there exists a close link between legal hunting and poaching.

Conservation in Kenya has become largely a law enforcement operation and, inevitably, this is a drain on limited local resources. Instituting right policies even after coming up with the project might be a nightmare due to few corrupt minded individuals across the ministries and other relevant bodies. My big question is how well can we do it?

Hopefully with proper management of trophy hunting areas, wild animal populations can be conserved for the sake of future generations and for the earth to still remain a little wilder. All the stakeholders should team up and look at the way the KWS will coordinate the practice because previous failures resulted from their inefficiencies. 

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