• Poaching was on the rise in the 1990s, with perpetrators targeting the Asian market
• Concerted efforts have helped to change the narrative but vigilance is still necessary
The use of community policing and heightened security in the last 15 years has seen the number of elephants and rhinos stabilise.
Harsh penalties and increased conservation efforts have also contributed to the numbers, according to the state.
This came as the government identified climate change, decreased habitats and a rise in cases of human-wildlife conflicts as the major challenges facing wildlife conservation.
This emerged during the first-ever scientific conference organised by the Wildlife Research and Training Institute and held at Lake Naivasha Resort.
Addressing participants, Prime CS Musalia Musalia said the country’s wildlife are under major threats due to poaching for game meat, closure of wildlife corridors and reduction of habitats.
Elephant and rhino numbers that were under threat a couple of years back had stabilised, however, due to concerted efforts by stakeholders, he said.
“We should, however, remain vigilant as our wildlife sector, which is a major contributor to the tourism sector, is facing many challenges,” he said.
Mudavadi praised WRTI for holding the conference, noting that data is critical in conservation efforts and with assisting in policy formulation.
He directed the research institute to come up with a National Wildlife Strategy Report within a month, which would help the government in decision-making.
WRTI chairman David Nkedianye noted that wildlife population in the country is on the decline due to the rising challenges in the sector.
He identified some of the challenges as declining habitats due to a rise in human population and development, which were also displacing the wild animals.
“The research institute will work with stakeholders in addressing the issues of data, which plays a crucial role in decision-making and coming up with policies,” he said.
Tourism CS Peninah Malonza said some of the country’s endangered species were under threat, adding that the research institute would help come up with measures to protect them.
“This conference comes at the right time, when we are dealing with the issues of climate change, and the resolutions will help close the gap between information collection and policy making,” she said.
WRTI director Dr Patrick Omondi said that for years, wildlife data was scattered, making it hard to come up with policies and address the challenges facing conservation.
“We have data as old as 50 years, but this has not been implemented. But the conference will come up with the way forward and assist in science management and policy,” he said.