Climate Change Threat to Wildlife Conservation Efforts (Kenya)
Wagema Mwangi, Kenya News Agency
May 7, 2022
The government has cited climate change as a key threat to wildlife
conservation efforts in the country after a disclosure that a record 78
elephants succumbed to the ravaging drought that swept through the Tsavo
Conservation Area in 2021.
The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala said
adverse effects of climate change have cascaded into the conservation
sector and thereby presenting a significant challenge to the gains made by
the government in preservation of wildlife in protected and non-protected
Speaking at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Law Enforcement Academy in
Manyani, Voi during the passing out of 68 community rangers from sixteen
conservancies across the country, the CS said the government had put robust
measures in place to mitigate against such risks.
“We are losing more elephants to climate change related issues than to
poaching. This new threat to conservation efforts is being handled through
investing heavily in programs and processes that will sustain our wildlife
heritage,” he said.
The CS was accompanied by the Principal Secretary (PS) Wildlife Zainabu
Hussein, Chair of KWS Board of Trustees General (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana, KWS
Director-General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru, Wildlife Secretary Dr.
Erastus Kanga and Taita-Taveta County Commissioner Lyford Kibaara amongst
other senior officials.
The CS paid tribute to extensive anti-poaching efforts that have seen
elimination of poaching activities and illegal trade involving wildlife
trophies. He however said that the new threat posed by climate change was
equally severe because it impacted directly on the survival of wild animals.
Already, several interventions are underway to secure wildlife in Tsavo
National Park against drought. The CS disclosed that 13 water pans would be
constructed at strategic areas inside the protected area. This will bolster
activities towards harvesting of rain and floodwaters.
The project would see thousands of elephants across the expansive landscape
get water during the dry seasons.
According to the National Census Wildlife Report of 2021, Kenya has a
population of 36,280 elephants. Tsavo Conservation Area has the highest
concentration of elephants estimated at almost 13,000.
There have also been extensive reforestation efforts in several parts of
Tsavo landscape that had been greatly affected by degradation. This is
intended to restore the tree cover and increase the capacity of the
protected area to retain moisture.
The CS stated that the next frontier in conservation called for close
partnerships and collaboration with conservation partners to ensure that
the emerging threats and challenges were effectively handled.
He added that the graduation of the rangers through the support of UNDP and
partners was a testament to KWS’s commitment to work closely with groups to
promote growth of the wildlife sector and seek sustainable initiatives for
the benefit of communities.
The CS reiterated the government’s efforts to protect the integrity of the
conservation sector, warning that not doing so was risking the country
losing an invaluable national heritage.
“We are committed to putting resources and efforts in ensuring the
conservation sector grows through collaboration and strategic investments,”
Already, KWS is in the process of overhauling its training curriculum to
align with the changing dynamics in the conservation field. This change of
curriculum has been necessitated by the need to build competencies that
will enhance capacities to emergent challenges.
KWS Director General Brigadier (rtd) John Waweru said the changes in the
curriculum remain key to enhancing the capacity of the Law Enforcement
Academy to equip conservancies’ rangers and scouts with modern skills to
boost conservation initiatives.
He added that the key pillars in KWS strategic plans including
collaboration, conservation and enterprise would be strengthened by the
“The aim is to strengthen conservation through collaborations with partners
and conservancies whom we work closely with,” he said.
KWS Board chair, General (rtd) Kibwana said the board would strive to
support programs and plans that will steer growth and sustainability in the
sector. Kibwana, who was on his first official duty since he was gazetted
as the board chair, expressed confidence that the agency would continue
spearheading growth in the conservation sector.
“The board will support programs and help in guiding the efforts to promote
conservation,” he said.
As part of achieving the strategic objective of demystifying conservation
to Kenyans, the CS said plans were underway to construct a multi-million
Wildlife boot camp at Law Enforcement Academy grounds.
The boot camp with barracks for boarding will be a nexus for inducting
students and residents into conservation activities as part of
participatory approach to conservation. The camp would also admit
international students to create networks that will market Kenya as a key
Balala disclosed that such plans would form part of post-Covid 19 recovery
strategies. He added that though tourism was hard-hit by the coronavirus
pandemic, the outlook in post-covid era was very promising.
He predicted that 2022 might be the best year in the tourism sector and
said projections indicated it might surpass the sh. 157 billion revenue
from the sector in 2019.
“We estimate that we will fully recover from the effects of Covid-19 in
2024 but the outlook is very positive currently. If we keep on the current
trajectory, we will surpass the revenues in 2019,” he said.
The country earned sh. 137 billion from the tourism sector in 2021.