The eighth World Wildlife Day was commemorated March 3, 2021, at Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park off Shimoni, Kwale County, pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution of 20th December, 2013, which proclaimed 3 March as UN World Wildlife Day.
The day was presided over by the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife IG (Rtd.) Joseph Boinnet. The celebrations were held in tandem with the launch of an ambitious Economic Stimulus Program.
KWS Director General Brig (Rtd.) John Waweru said that this years’ theme was ‘Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet.” He explained the challenges facing forests today as illegal logging, encroachment, over exploitation, over grazing and forest fires, giving an example of the fire in Lake Nakuru National Park on March 2, 2021.
DG said that the risks which plague forests call for their continued protection to minimize the negative impact on resources and avoid degradation and deforestation. Brigadier explained the Shimoni Forest is a coastal one with features such as fossilized coral substrate found naturally in the soil, mined for building construction materials. “Mangrove trees found in Shimoni are an important biodiversity feature,” he said. In recognition of this, KWS led a team of partners in planting 50,000 mangrove trees to conserve the Shimoni habitat.
DG regretted the upsurge in illegal bush meat poaching during the Covid19 pandemic, urging communities living adjacent to wildlife to refrain from doing so lest they suffer stiff penalties laid down in the Wildlife Management and Conservation Act.
Principal Secretary, State Department of Wildlife in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Prof. Fred Segor said that international commemorations such as WWD are important because they are a platform for mobilizing political will and resources which will facilitate tackling global challenges. The PS stressed on the importance of mobilizing the youth and local communities in conservation.
Segor thanked KWS Chair, Board of Trustees and DG for building collaborations for the sake of conservation. He assured KWS of the Ministry’s support to achieve all its conservation goals.
Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife IG (Rtd.) Joseph Boinnet, speaking on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary, said that WWD is an important global event whose theme this year specifically highlights the central role that forests, forest species and ecosystems play in supporting the livelihoods of millions of people globally.
This aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals 1, 12, 13 and 15, and their wide-ranging commitments to alleviating poverty, ensuring sustainable use of resources, and conserving life on land.
He said that forests and wildlife play a central role in mitigating the effects of climate change, in addition to providing sustainable ecosystem management and services such as clean water, provision of energy and herbal medicine. Boinnet said that the ministry’s contribution to today’s WWD involved joining the local community in planting mangrove seedlings in Shimoni Forest.
He emphasised KWS’ important role in conserving the five critical water towers in Kenya that include Mounts Kenya and Elgon and the Aberdare and involvement in the protection and restoration of Mau Forest in collaboration with other national and county Government agencies.
The CAS said that WWD 2021 also marked an important milestone which the Kenya government launched to mitigate the adverse effects of Covid19. On May 23, the government rolled out an 8-point post-Covid economic stimulus program. The Ministry of Tourism benefited on several fronts, among them being one billion shillings disbursed to engage 5,500 Community Scouts to be recruited and work under KWS. 14.6% were recruited from the Coast as follows: Tana River – 127, Kwale – 144, Tana River – 167, Mombasa – 122, Kilifi – 122, and 106 from Lamu. In addition, another one billion shillings was disbursed to pay salaries of community conservancy rangers.
The WWD commemoration culminated in the presentation of an economic stimulus cheque by the CAS.
Also in attendance at WWD 2021 was the Principal Secretary, State Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Safina Kwekwe; the acting Chair of the KWS Board of Trustees, Betty Maitoyo; The Kwale County Commissioner, Joseph Muriithi; representatives of the Chief Conservator of Forests; CEO Kenya Tourism Board, Dr. Betty Radier; CEO Tourism Finance Corporation, Jonah Orumoi; CEO Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, Dickson Kaelo; KWS Board representatives and senior management.