WILDLIFE POLICIES

Allowing hunting a short-term trap

It’d be a PR disaster among our real target audience—tourists.

In Summary

• Teeth are set on edge every time an image of a poacher or hunter reaches the headlines or social media. 

• Now is the time to harness the full international potential of this emotion. 

Wildebeests cross the Mara River.
Wildebeests cross the Mara River.

In a world full of environmental disasters, pollution and climate change, Kenya is one of the last bastions of great open spaces, providing unspoilt homes for the most majestic of God’s creations.

The government has been consistently strong in its policy of keeping poachers and other forms of neo-colonialism from pillage our natural resources. The same cannot be said of Botswana, Tanzania and other nations in the region.

While limited short-term financial returns have their natural attraction, there is a clear advantage in pushing our national brand as the loyal guardians of the world’s greatest fauna.

 

Soon we might see African governments inviting foreign pyromaniacs to come in and set their villages on fire if it brings some quick money.

Our neighbours’ short-term gains are our long-term opportunities. Aside from the few criminals and their enablers, in Europe and around the world poachers and hunters of big game are held in the lowest possible regard, with no distinction made between them.

Teeth are set on edge every time an image of a poacher or hunter reaches the headlines or social media. Now is the time to harness the full international potential of this emotion. 

Soon we might see African governments inviting foreign pyromaniacs to come in and set their villages on fire if it brings some quick money.

The government expects more than 2.5 million tourist arrivals annually by 2022, but that number can grow even more rapidly if we look at other international success stories. Partnering with private companies will increase the pace of growth. Peace is another fundamental element in attracting tourists.

Underneath all of these factors, however, is the need for a strong and distinctive Kenyan brand. When Americans, Chinese, Indians and Europeans think of Kenya, what image is conjured up in their minds? We have the opportunity to build on branding successes like the plastic bag ban, geothermal energy and diverse ecosystems.

Poaching incidents in Kenya's third-largest nature conservation area, Tsavo, have gone down by 96 per cent. These are the headlines dreams are made of when it comes to making an impression in the minds of potential tourists.

Improved monitoring and security operations by government agencies and conservation partners are paying dividends. These efforts should begin to include other problem areas such as lakes.

 

The overfishing problem can be brought under control – the annual fishing ban is being reinstated and supplemented by new strategies and technologies.

Fish markets and hatcheries in Karagita, alongside improved funding, have increased the potential for food security and preserved biodiversity. While many of our lakes, and even conservancies, lack tourism facilities, changes to improve security against poaching and illegal fishing mean that we can begin to expand our horizons.

I have read of people arguing for a return of hunting. We cannot fall into the short-term trap of catering and bowing to the bloodlust of a few mega-wealthy individuals.

Private sector investment to underfunded protected areas can replicate the successes of Tsavo, capitalise on the surging interest in eco-tourism, and help fund conservation without costing the taxpayer.

Eighty per cent of tourists to sub-Saharan Africa visit to view wildlife, and Kenya can ride on the wave of international tourism which is expanding exponentially. The number of tourists to sub-Saharan Africa is set to double to 134 million by 2030, and many Kenyans can find reliable and productive income in this sector.

I have read of people arguing for a return of hunting. We cannot fall into the short-term trap of catering and bowing to the bloodlust of a few mega-wealthy individuals.

The short-term earning potential is outweighed by the terrible public relations disaster it brings among our real target audience, the middle classes of the world.

Our government is right to continue our noble and righteous stand to defend our historic inheritance, and become a shining light to a world in the throes of climate gloom.

Adviser to Devolution CS