- The Tembo Naming festival launched in 2021, raised 16.5 million in the inaugural year meant for conservation.
- This year, 17 new adopters have come on board with the Tourism Ministry projecting more collection from the previous one.
Empowering pastoral communities living near national parks and gearing up provision of additional food to the endangered species in parks struck by drought is essential in boosting tourism, sector players say.
Community support programmes such as feeding, education and sensitisation have seen locals adopt measures and strategies put in place by sector players towards tourism promotion.
The aforementioned strategic approaches have also been backed to harmonise the sector players and the communities in the fight against human-wildlife conflict, a concern that is likely to be exacerbated by the drought situation.
According to the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Peninah Malonza, the current drought situation in the country has adversely affected both human beings and wildlife, hence the need to step up efforts in keeping up the wild numbers to woo more visitors.
She was speaking during the commemoration of the World Wildlife Day at the Amboseli National Park.
"For instance, through the Tembo Naming festival, a mechanism established by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to champion elephant conservation in the country, individuals and organisations get the opportunity to fund conservation efforts by donating money to the Kenya Wildlife Service," Malonza said.
In its inaugural year 2021, 25 organisations and individuals contributed towards the conservation of elephants.
A total of Sh16.5 million was collected with the CS saying they have so far spent about Sh6 million towards conservation and community support programmes.
This year, 17 new adopters have come on board with the ministry projecting more collection compared to the inaugural value to boost the drought mitigation measures.
Close to 500 communities in the environs of Amboseli National Park have so far directly benefited from projects funded through the Magical Kenya Tembo Naming Festival.
Key among these are water projects initiated to reduce the scramble for water resources between human beings and Wildlife.
According to the community members, the projects have really boosted their stake play in the sector instead of just being viewed as threat to wildlife.
"These have made us feel part and parcel of the strive to boost tourism. since we came to realise the benefits it has on our people who are grappling with the ongoing drought," says an elder from Enkongunarok village.
"Today, we actually see the wild just same as our cattle, whenever they enter our homes, we take the right precautionary measures and procedures as advised by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)."
It is on the concern that the exacerbating drought is claiming the lives of the wild, with the main concern being the big five which are mostly sort by tourists.
In the past three months, according to Malonza, the country has lost a total of 18 elephants on the back of drought.
This after losing a total of 205 in the past one year to September 2022.
In his statement, Kenya Wildlife Service director general Erustus Kanga noted that conservation is crucial to the tourism sector as they work on other initiatives to promote both local and foreign tourism.
“We are currently working on the seasonal park entry fees with a low season rate that will enhance more of domestic tourism even as we head into the low season between April and June,” Kanga said.
Currently the park entry fee at the Amboseli for resident adults goes at Sh860 and $60 (Sh7,657) for non-residents.
The charges at Tsavo East/West are at Sh515 and Sh6,636 for resident adult and non-resident, respectively.
This is mirrored by the previous plans by KWS to also increase the number of tourist activities from the initial 12 to 21 in drive to boost tourism.
During the commemoration event, CS Malonza also flagged off stacks of hay that will be distributed to wildlife in the park.
She also launched the National Elephant Action Plan 2023/2033 which will guide elephant conservation efforts in Kenya while safeguarding their welfare under scientific management.