•WRTI was established in recognition that research plays a crucial role in the conservation and management of the country’s iconic species.
•The institute is also recognised as a key pillar by the National Wildlife Policy 2020 and the National Wildlife Strategy 2030.
The government is seeking to address the challenges facing the conservation and management of wildlife by developing a national database.
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 mandates the Wildlife Research and Training Institute, in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service, to establish such a database.
On Tuesday, institute’s director Dr Paul Omondi told the Star the database is aimed at addressing some of the challenges facing the conservation and management of iconic species.
“Data is available but scattered. The data will be crucial in informing the conservation and management,” he said.
WRTI was established in recognition that research plays a crucial role in the conservation and management of the country’s iconic species.
The institute is also recognised as a key pillar by the National Wildlife Policy 2020 and the National Wildlife Strategy 2030.
WRTI has been established with the understanding that the wildlife research agenda needs to be more focused on providing reliable scientific information on emerging wildlife conservation and management challenges.
The institute provides knowledge on the status of the country’s wildlife and their potential to facilitate optimised benefits from the wildlife resource.
For instance, in 2021, the institute conducted its first national wildlife census, which showed the country’s wildlife species were thriving.
The 2021 census report showed 36,280 elephants, black rhino (897), white rhino (842), northern rhino (2), lions (2,589), hyenas (5,189), cheetahs (1,160), wild dogs (865) and buffalo (41,659) were counted.
Other animals counted include Maasai giraffe (13,530), reticulated giraffe (19,725), Nubian’s giraffe (938), common zebra (121,911), Grevy’s zebra (2,649), eland (13,581), hartebeest (7,332), wildebeest (57,813), and Grant’s gazelle (66,709).
Omondi said the database infrastructure will consolidate all the data that is in the hands of the various players in the sector.
The database will include relevant data produced by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, universities and other research institutions.
Omondi said the data will inform developments in the country such as roads.
For instance, the Kenya National and Highways Authority will use the data when developing infrastructure in protected areas.
Omondi said the move will enhance human-wildlife co-existence and avoid conflicts.
It will also help in securing wildlife corridors thereby avoiding conflicts.
The outstanding backlog to be paid as compensation for human-wildlife conflicts stands at Sh5 billion.
In case of death, Sh5 million is paid to the victim’s family while Sh3 million is paid in case of injury occasioning permanent disability.
In case of any other injury, a maximum of Sh2 million is paid depending on the extent of the injury.
Omondi said WRTI has been allocated Sh23 million for the establishment of the necessary database infrastructure.
He said the data will progressively be made available and accessible.
However, the institute may refuse to grant an application where the data or information requested is classified and restricted.
The wildlife laws say a person who fails or refuses to grant the director access to records or documents commits an offence and may be fined.
Omondi said there are existing research centres such as Nyeri, Tsavo East (Asal and terrestrial) and Malindi (Coastal and Marine research.)
He said the research will also guide ministries such as Water when they are putting up water dams.
Omondi said his organisation was consulting the ICT authority with a view to fast-tracking the database, which is expected to take shape by the end of the year.