Today is an historic moment for wildlife conservation in Kenya as stakeholders get a chance to comment on the proposed Wildlife Bill. Everyone knows that the current Wildlife Act is outdated.
The public can comment on the proposed Bill which is available on the ministry’s website http://www.forestryandwildlife.go.ke or direct on http://www.forestryandwildlife.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Draft_Wildlife_Policy.pdf
Here are the comments compiled by Kenya Land Conservation Trust following stakeholder discussions with the community and some NGO’s and companies in our offices in Nairobi.
We will be tweeting from the stakeholder meeting all day today . follow @paulakahumbu and send us any comments
The following document was compiled by lawyer Liz Gitari and Paula Kahumbu.
SOME ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION IN THE DRAFT WILDLIFE BILL JULY 2011 VERSION.
Changes in the structure of the organs managing wildlife conservation S. 5
The Act creates of Kenya Wildlife Regulatory Authority that will be a new parastatal mandated to formulate standards, mechanisms for conservation, issue permits for wildlife user rights, and establish regional conservation areas.
It is overall responsible for the major policy and management decisions in reference to wildlife conservation in the country.
The Act also establishes a Directorate of Conservation under the Department of Wildlife that is headed by a Cabinet Secretary for Conservation, and responsible for policy and formulation of a national wildlife conservation and management strategy in consultation with stakeholders.
The Bill adopts the Kenya Wildlife Service, from the current Wildlife Act. This is the parastatal that manages wildlife conservation in parks and reserves, and collaborates with landowners for the creation of conservancies and sanctuaries.
Our concern is that these multiple bodies will potentially lead to duplication of authority. For instance, all these bodies will deal with policy issues.
Our recommendation is that the roles and responsibilities of the Wildlife Regulatory Authority, KWS and the Directorate be defined and separated.
Provision for Community conservation of wildlife through community wildlife associations S. 33
This is a new provision that aims to make it possible for communities to participate and benefit from wildlife conservation. Such associations must be registered as societies under the Societies Act.
The requirement that Community Conservation Associations be registered under the Societies Act is very limiting as communities cannot make use of other legal vehicles such as Trusts and NGOs.
Additionally the Act does not recognize that there are already existing Community Based Organizations for conservation, as well as conservancies owned by communities that are not registered under the Societies Act and thus the process of conversion may be very cumbersome, time consuming, costly and may not be economically viable.
We do see the need for this requirement and recommend that the provision be removed or opened up from the Bill to allow for registration under other legal regimes to make it easy for communities to participate in conservation.
Establishment of Private conservancies S. 44
This provision attempts to regulate the creation of private conservancies by individual or groups of land owners. It does not recognize that significant land and wildlife assets already reside in private conservancies and are playing a key role in conservation in Kenya.
Under this section, private land must be registered with the Authority which shall also form guidelines for the management of such areas.
The private conservancies or sanctuaries must apply for approval from the Authority and the Authority can demand that the management be in accordance with their standards. However, the definition of Conservancies in the Act is weak and needs to be developed.
The major problem we see in this provision is that the National Land Commission may declare any conservancy that they deem to be mismanaged, to be a provisional wildlife conservation area. Under this status the KWS will take over for a period of up to 5 years at the cost of the land owner. While this regulation attempts to create and uphold certain standards, it will be viewed by private land owners as punitive and a disincentive to participation in wildlife conservation by creating conservancies. It also threatens existing conservancies.
Further, there appears to be no way of applying for deregistration as conservancy or sanctuary should a land owner decide to change land use.
Additionally the Act does not recognize the significant contribution that existing conservancies are making towards protecting Kenya’s national wildlife treasures, nor the potential that they can contribute.
This provision significantly affects private landowners, however, we are not aware if any were consulted during the drafting phase as key stakeholders. Indeed KLCT recently requested an audience with KWS Director to discuss the formation of an umbrella conservancies body to address the needs of private conservancies and to find out what the governments thinking was on the issue of conservancies.
We recommend that this section substantially re-written with thorough stakeholder consultation, or completely removed from the draft bill and developed as a separate regulation under the Act with stakeholder input.
Creation of an endowment fund for KWS. S. 31
This is a new introduction to the Act. The act safeguards against the misappropriation of the fund by providing that only the interest on the fund is to be used by KWS.
Incentives for wildlife conservation( S. 44(4)
The Act entitles the wildlife conservancy or sanctuary to receive technical advice and financial support for the development of the conservancy. This works to the advantage of small community land holders who aim to benefit from the natural resource that is wildlife but do not have the capacity to do so.
In general these incentives will not play a key role in encouraging communities and land owners to take up conservation as a form of land use.
We recommend that the government seriously examines innovative mechanisms to recognize, reward and compensate (for opportunity costs) communities and private land owners for the real benefits generated through their contribution and commitment to wildlife conservation in Kenya.
Degradation of wildlife habitat through development and reversing wildlife losses.
Loss of wildlife habitat due to land use change and fragmentation is recognized as the major threat to the national wildlife heritage that is not addressed in the Bill.
This issue is not addressed by the Act. We recommend that the Bill includes provisions similar to Endangered Species Act of the USA which protects endangered species form developments that threaten the species and their habitats Such restriction should include endangered species and spectacles (eg wildlife migrations) and their core habitats, dispersal areas, and movement corridors.
We recognize the role of private sector in conservation management and enterprise development, and we recommend that the Wildlife Bill creates provisions for private sector participation in the management of Parks and Reserves. We envision a future where some parks that are currently not viable, are leased to private sector to sustainably manage and develop into commercially viable entities for long economic and environmental sustainability.
Provision of wildlife user rights S.36
This includes culling and cropping. This is great to the extent that the Act gives licenses for such activities such as game ranching and farming, meaning the communities can now benefit from ranching animals such as Oryx and meat.
However, it also means that we will now need special licenses for non consumptive utilization such as wildlife based tourism, commercial photography and filming, educational purposes, research, cultural and religious purposes,
Under S. 37&38 hunting of any kind is prohibited.
Further the provisions of S.41 and 42 in respect of trophies rises the question whether the licensing of trophy dealers will inadvertently lead to more incidences of poaching in the country….also the fact that keeping a trophy for cultural reasons is permitted but using wildlife in any way for cultural reasons is prohibited unless a license is issued does raise questions of duplicity and contradiction.
Conservation orders and easements. S. 61
This is new in the Act. They will exist in gross, they can be negotiated or the Authority will impose it on any land they deem fit but this must be made in accordance with the constitutional provisions on compulsory acquisition. They may be perpetual or for a limited time.
This is a welcomed provision as conservation easements currently available through then Environment Management Conservation Act (EMCA) have not be employed due to a bureaucratic process. Under EMCA Government cannot compensate you, unless the easement is held under a government agency. In this bill private individuals or NGO’s can access government funds to hold wildlife easements
Mechanisms for the control of problem animals S. 68
This section allows officers of KWS to kill a problem animal as defined in S.2 of the act. It also allows land owners to kill problem animals as long as they do not use poison pitfall or snare.
This provision could lead to the killing of some endangered species including rhino elephant, wild dogs and cheetah which are all listed under the Eight schedule B as problem animals.
We recommend that species listed as endangered be treated differently and controlled only by the Service.
The establishment of county compensation committees S. 72.
Compensation shall be paid for damage to crops or livestock as well as personal injury by the department responsible for wildlife which shall have a budget for that. The compensation shall be paid at local market value.
However, the mechanism proposed is unnecessarily bureaucratic as it involves application to the county wildlife conservation committee who will then verify and recommend to the cabinet secretary who shall then award the money.
This section creates an incentive to kill problem animals as it will now be easier to simply kill any problem animal and report it within 7 days, rather than wait for the Service to act on it and apply for compensation in case of damage (which is also prone to abuse).
We recommend that the Authority finds innovative ways to incentivize land owners to support and benefit from wildlife conservation, and to take responsibility for protecting themselves against the threats of wildlife injury, death or damage through insurance schemes.
In respect to prosecution powers under S 94.
This needs changing from AG to Director of public prosecution to be in tandem with the new constitution as the AG does not have public prosecutorial powers anymore.
Protected water towers of national importance Fourth Schedule .
They are listed as 19 in total. We do not see the purpose of forest water towers being listed as wildlife assets and instead recommend that all of these be listed under the Forest Act.
Laikipia Wildlife Forum circulated these comments
National Consensus on draft Wildlife Policy & Bill
The Ministry of Forestry & Wildlife in collaboration with stakeholders in the wildlife and related sectors has prepared the draft Wildlife Policy & Bill. The drafts are based on expert opinion obtained through an all inclusive consultation process involving all stakeholders, public, private sector, community based organizations and civil society organizations.The Ministry has now aligned the draft policy and bill with the new constitution and wishes to share the outcomes of the review process with stakeholders. The draft Wildlife Policy & Bill are available on the ministry’s website http://www.forestryandwildlife.go.ke or direct on http://www.forestryandwildlife.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Draft_Wildlife_Policy.pdf
In the exercise of the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution, members of the public are invited to make comments on the Policy & Bill and send them to email@example.com
Or send to:
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Forestry & Wildlife,
Telposta Towers, 3rd Floor, P.O Box 41394 – 00100 Nairobi
As published in the Sunday Nation 21st August 2011
Laikipia Wildlife Forum has been actively engaged in contributing expert opinion to the Wildlife Policy & Bill and supports calls for the introduction of stiffer penalties against wildlife crimes (poaching).
1.3 THE NEED FOR A NEW WILDLIFE POLICY AND LAW
1.3.1 Factors that have raised the need for a new Wildlife Policy and Law include:
- Lack of a comprehensive wildlife policy and law in light of changed circumstances;
- Rapid change of tenure and land use in wildlife rangelands from communal to private ownership, associated land subdivision, fencing and conversion for other uses particularly agriculture, infrastructure and urban development;
- Perverse economic incentives especially in the agricultural sector which adversely affects wildlife conservation and management initiatives;
- Institutional governance that has not integrated various stakeholders in the wildlife conservation and management;
- Increased human-wildlife conflicts and inadequate compensation;
- The need for decentralization and devolution of wildlife management to the lowest level possible and enlist the participation of the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community based organizations (CBOs) and other non-state actors;
- Marked decline in wildlife numbers and loss of biodiversity;
- Inadequate research capacity and absence of reliable and up to date data on wildlife; and
- The need to define wildlife.
Extract from Wildlife Policy & Bill