Kenya joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Wildlife Day (WWD) at a colourful ceremony held at the iconic Ivory Burning Site inside Nairobi National Park on March 3, 2022.
World Wildlife Day was mooted during the United Nations General Assembly’s 68th session that proclaimed 3rd March as a UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
Kenya Wildlife Service and the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife also used the event to launch White Rhino Conservation and Management Action Plan (2021-2025). The population of the southern white rhino has undergone rapid growth since introduction with current population estimated at 871 individuals from the 51 individuals introduced from Southern Africa in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s, thus the need to develop a separate management action plan for the species to guide on best practice for conservation and management of the species.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Hon Najib Balala presided over the twin even that was also graced by the Principal Secretary for Tourism Ms Zainab Hussein, and KWS Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru among others. The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration”.
The celebrations sought to draw attention to the conservation status of some of the most critically endangered species of wild fauna and flora, and to drive discussions towards imagining and implementing solutions to conserve them.
White rhinoceros are categorised as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List and northern sub-species or northern white rhino is listed as Critically Endangered, while black rhinoceros are categorised as Critically Endangered. “ I am happy to note that KWS has formulated over 20 national species strategies and action plans for implementation,” said Balala, singling out a few of these plans, including those of the black rhino, Elephant, Lion and spotted hyena, Grevy’s Zebra, Mountain Bongo, Hirola, Roan and Sable antelopes, Coral Reefs and Invasive species, among others.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, over 8,400 species of wild fauna and flora are critically endangered, while another close to 30,000 are endangered or vulnerable. Based on these estimates, it is suggested that over a million species are threatened with extinction.
Continued loss of species, habitats and ecosystems also threatens all life on earth. People everywhere rely on wildlife and biodiversity-based resources to meet their needs, from food, to fuel, medicines, housing, and clothing. Millions of people also rely on nature as the source of their livelihoods and economic opportunities.
KWS Director General Brig. (Rtd) John Waweru termed the launch of White Rhino Conservation and Management Action Plan (2021-2025) a milestone in Kenya’s conservation efforts. He thanked partners and KWS staff who supported production of the management and action plan.
The DG reaffirmed KWS’ commitment to deliver on its mandate of conserving wildlife, noting this has been realized thanks to passion and commitment among her staff. He rooted for engaging the youth in conservation activities saying the future of conservation lies in their hands.