•Balala said there is a need to mitigate climate change to make sure that there are no fires in some of the parks such as Mount Kenya and Tsavo conservation areas.
•The CS said the Kenya Defence Forces has been helping the service to desilt some of the dams and do abridge that broke due to floods long ago in Tsavo West.
Kenya has approximately lost 179 elephants due to the ongoing drought ravaging various parts of the country in the last eight months.
On Wednesday, Tourism CS Najib Balala said the impact of climate change was beyond their control.
“We are now building water pans, particularly in the Tsavo area where there is where it is badly hit so we hope in the next couple of months those water pans will be ready,” he said.
Interestingly, Balala in March this year had told the national assembly that the state was to spend Sh46.5 million to construct a monument for the famous Tusker elephant, Tim.
Balala told the National Assembly’s Finance committee that the Tim monument will be erected at the Amboseli National Park.
Tim died on February 4, 2020, aged 50 years in the Mada area of Amboseli National Park.
The body of Tim, the majestic super tusker elephant, has been preserved at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi for education and exhibition purposes.
According to census results released last year, there are 36,280 jumbos in the country.
Balala said they want to work with different stakeholders to make sure that there is quick support in drier areas to mitigate the death of elephants and the issue of climate change.
The CS said Maasai Mara is greener than other areas but Tsavo and Northern parts are dry.
“We need to find a clear marshal plan on addressing climate change and the issue of drought. The biggest elephant in the room today is climate change,” he said.
The CS made the remarks at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi during the honorary warden’s conference that was attended by Wildlife Research and Training Institute CEO Dr Patrick Omondi, Kenya Wildlife Service Director General John Waweru among others.
Balala said there is a need to mitigate climate change to make sure that there are no fires in some of the parks such as Mount Kenya and Tsavo conservation areas.
The CS said the Kenya Defence Forces has been helping the service to desilt some of the dams and do abridge that broke due to floods long ago in Tsavo West.
He said KDF will repair another bridge in Nakuru.
Balala urged those tasked with the conservation and protection of iconic species to analyse their areas and have a long-term strategy for addressing challenges in such areas.
Balala said the focus of the authorities has been on anti-poaching, which has largely succeeded.
However, he said state agencies won’t relent as poaching is still on.
“I do not know where the market is but sometimes poaching is in-house. It is people within us who know where the markets are, how to signal the poachers to come in,” he said.
Balala said authorities have not invested much in improving biodiversity in the country’s national parks.
The CS said the country has not done enough to secure what it has.
Balala said there are almost 170 community conservancies acting as a buffer zone for national parks and reserves and creating space for wildlife.
The CS said he would wish that the country gets up to 30 per cent of its land mass into conservation.
Balala said the venture is not easy due to competition between agriculture, and human settlement.
“And unfortunately, we have people who are greedy, destroying everything else for their own profiteering through land grabbing,” he said.
The CS has served for the last 17 years.
He has two weeks to exit.
Balala said he will be around but he does not know what he is going to do yet adding that there is life beyond just being a politician.
The CS said when he joined, he had no clue about conservation but he was inducted and converted.
This was shortly before the case of 12 rhinos that died during translocation caused a stir between him and conservationists.
“That was trauma and nightmare that I went through but that was a valued lesson.
Balala said he never gave up because while working for the government, one has to develop a thick skin.
The CS said 342 honorary wardens have been gazetted across the country to work together with the KWS wardens.
DG Waweru on his part said communities have been sensitized on how to co-exist with wildlife as one way of dealing with human-wildlife conflicts.
Waweru said two-thirds of the wildlife exists outside protected areas, mainly in community areas.
He said some of the activities such as fencing and beekeeping have been adopted to keep wildlife away from where people reside.
Waweru said the service has adopted an intelligence-led system and a multi-agency approach to beat poaching.
The DG said elephants in the North have been affected the most by the ongoing drought.
“It is sad to be losing elephants to climate change and its vagaries of climate rather than a threat that we have far managed to contain and that is direct poaching.”