POOR INFRASTRUCTURE

Wildlife players blast state for neglecting sector

They accuse state of not doing enough despite generating billions from it

In Summary

• Conservationists blame government saying most of the infrastructure in National Parks and reserves are in a sorry state. 

• They say communities living next to the protected areas don't benefit despite being exposed to wildlife-human contact. 

Tourism CS Najib Balal during the stakeholders' consultative forum on innovative human-wildlife conflict compensation schemes in Nairobi on May 15
RAW DEAL?: Tourism CS Najib Balal during the stakeholders' consultative forum on innovative human-wildlife conflict compensation schemes in Nairobi on May 15
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Conservationists on Wednesday hit out at the government for not investing enough in the tourism sector despite generating billions. 

The conservationists, who took part in a workshop at the Catholic University of Africa, blamed the government, saying most of the infrastructure in national parks and reserves are in a sorry state. 

Organised by WildlifeDirect, the one-day workshop was meant to develop a citizen toolkit to prevent and reverse environmental degradation in the country. 

WildlifeDirect is a Kenya and US-registered charitable organisation campaigning for justice for wildlife. Wildlife Clubs of Kenya manager for special projects George Njagi said communities living next to the protected areas feel they were getting a raw deal. 

“In protected areas, you will find that there is water yet communities do not have it,” he said. 

Njagi said the government has collected billions from tourism. "However, communities hosting wildlife have nothing to show."  

Moreover, the government is still grappling with how to compensate cases of human-wildlife conflicts running to billions.  

Last year, Kenya's tourist arrivals grew by 37.33 per cent from the previous year to cross the two million mark. The country received 2,025,206 foreign tourists compared to the previous year's  1,474,671.

The sector raked in Sh157 billion last year against  Sh119 billion earned in 2017, marking a 31.2 per cent improvement, Tourism CS Najib Balala said. 

Visitors from the United States grew by 11.12 per cent, with 225,157 arrivals.

Njagi said communities residing next to the protected areas must feel appreciated through benefit-sharing as they host wildlife. He said in some parks, communities feel that the government took over their land.

During the workshop, conservationists said some communities had resulted in killing wildlife as a result of being sidelined. The role that private conservancies play was also highlighted. 

Participants said private conservancies do not reveal what they get, further exposing communities to a raw deal.

World Wide Fund for Nature Kenya spatial planning manager Zachary Maritim raised concerns over the encroachment of wildlife corridors and dispersal areas. 

WWF is the world’s leading independent conservation organisation. Maritim said as the population grows, people encroach on wildlife dispersal areas.

In July 2017, the Environment ministry launched a report detailing Wildlife Migratory Corridors and Dispersal Areas. 

The report showed that most wildlife dispersal areas and migratory corridors are under threat. They have been interfered with by human activities and some have been blocked. The report identified 58 migratory routes and corridors. 

These are the Southern Kenya rangeland ecosystems–Maasai Mara Ecosystem (17), Eburu Forest and Lakes Naivasha-Elementaita-Nakuru conservation and Ecological Area (eight), Athi-Kaputiei and Nairobi National Park (seven), South Rift (eight), Amboseli and West Kilimanjaro (eight) and the Tsavo Conservation Area (10 ). 

Edited by R.Wamochie