Kenya wildlife policy policy committee pushes “cropping,” not “hunting”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2007:

NAIROBI–“The National Steering Committee,” drafting
revisions to Kenyan wildlife policy, “has dropped recommendations
for killing animals for fun,” revealed The Nation environment
correspondent John Mbaria on March 16, 2007. Instead, Mbaria
wrote, “it has adopted cropping wildlife.” Mbaria explained that
the draft policy “defines cropping as ‘harvesting free-ranging
animals for a range of products, including meat and wildlife
trophies.’
“In Kenya,” Mbaria continued, “most animals are
free-ranging. Apart from Saiwa Swamp in Western Kenya, and
Aberdares and Lake Nakuru national parks, which have electric
fences, the rest of the parks and reserves are open.”


The new draft policy position “is just a matter of semantics.
Cropping is hunting by another name,” International Fund for Animal
Welfare regional communications officer Elizabeth Wamba told Mbaria.
“Kenya will now not have trophy hunting,” affirmed African
Network for Animal Welfare founder Josphat Ngonyo. “However, it
will have cropping. This has been abused before,” Ngonyo warned.
“Besides, wildlife numbers have declined, and we do not know the
correct population position yet. We are therefore campaigning
that this be put at bay.”
“Fear that cropping might further diminish wildlife in Kenya
is underscored by past practice,” Mbaria wrote, “especially by
big-time game ranchers who were given a go-ahead to engage in
cropping on an experimental basis by the Kenya Wildlife Service
between 1991 and 2003.”
The experiment ended after a company called Tasha Bioservices
Ltd., headed by Moi University lecturer Jim Kairu, spent 2001
gathering data. Tasha Bioservices found that “Some croppers are
known to abuse their licences by injuring both target and non-target
animals, shooting animals indiscriminately, shooting species not
included in the allocated quotas, and killing animals beyond the
scheduled boundaries.”
The Kenya Wildlife Service had incorrectly believed, based
on reports and complaints from private landowners, that “many
non-protected wildlife areas were teeming with excess wildlife,”
Mbaria summarize. This proved to be false.
“Cropping does not benefit the local communities,” Ngonyo
said, “and will jeopardize the strategies proposed to curb the bush
meat problem and compensation through human-wildlife conflict.”
Ngonyo was a close observer of the previous failure of
cropping. As an employee of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
elephant and rhinoceros orphanage, Ngonyo helped to raise animals
orphaned by poachers who used cropping as a cover. Ngonyo later
founded Youth for Conservation to attack the bush meat trade, which
also used cropping as a cover. Since 1998 Youth for Conservation has
organized volunteers to remove poachers’ snares from the Kenyan
national parks.
States the March 5, 2007 edition of the draft wildlife
policy, “Cropping will be allowed, subject to verified scientific
information and clear framework for benefit sharing.”
The draft policy “encourages and promotes as appropriate”
manufacturing and exporting products made from wildlife. “For the
time being,” the draft policy says, “sport hunting is excluded
from wildlife user rights until such time (as) there is developed
effective mechanisms for ensuring that there are direct benefits to
local communities.”
This leaves the door open to allowing sport hunting at a future date.
Mbaria had on February 24, 2007 extensively exposed efforts
by the U.S. Agency for International Development and Safari Club
International to undermine the Kenyan hunting ban.
“Cropping has now replaced sport hunting,” Mbaria observed.
“But many Kenyans living with wildlife are still opposed to it.
Representatives of communities from different regions organized a
demonstration [during the second week of March, 2007], at which
they hoped to present their grievances to tourism and wildlife
minister Morris Dzoro. But the demonstration was scuttled by the
police, who said the group of about 200 representatives had not
notified them properly.”
“Just as in the current process of making the country’s
wildlife policy, the earlier cropping experiment was introduced at
the behest of powerful international forces,” Mbaria wrote.
“Seemingly, the country’s wildlife resource has been targeted by such
elitist hunting groups as Safari Club International,” which was also
behind the passage of a stealth bill to repeal the hunting ban in
December 2004.
Kenyan President Mwai Kbaki vetoed the repeal after Youth for
Conservation mobilized nationwide opposition.
Cropping previously “had very little benefit to local
communities,” Mbaria noted, “as it was meant for large-scale
landholders hosting wild animals on their properties.
“Many people who took part in a nationwide views-gathering
exercise were opposed to the introduction of cropping in the draft
policy,” Mbaria added. “Communities in 18 of the 21 wildlife
regions in Kenya ruled out hunting, cropping, culling, or any
other consumptive use of wild animals.”
“It needs to be understood once and for all that the
intention of the Kenyan nation is to not kill but preserve all of its
wildlife. Period,” The Nation editorialized on March 18, 2007, as
the largest and most influential Kenyan newspaper.
“The whole philosophy of wildlife management in the mind of
the average Kenyan is to benefit from wildlife by caring for animals,
not by killing them. The draft wildlife policy is neither entirely
honest nor does it take into consideration the strategic and long
term interests of Kenya,” The Nation continued. “Kenyan wildlife
must not be killed for trophies.
“Those who wish to eat meat ought to be encouraged to keep a
cow or a goat. Those in the wildlife business who have determined
that the easiest way to benefit from animals is by killing them
should shift their business to the 22 African countries which see no
problem in killing their animals.
“Creating a legal market for game trophies is the equivalent
of putting a gun to the economy and pulling the trigger. Wildlife is
a strategic economic resource,” The Nation reminded. “Kenya has no
minerals. It relies on agriculture and tourism. Its future prospects
are tied around these two sectors. The management of wildlife is
therefore not down to a few MPs taking a junket and having their
views swayed. It is also not down to the views of a couple of NGOs
with an eye to a potentially lucrative donor.
“Our wild animals contribute 25% of our gross domestic
product, according to some government estimates, and account for 10%
of all formal jobs. Yet, we have lost 60% of our wildlife in the last
20 years or so.
“One would have thought that the sensible thing to do is to
devise a policy that protects these animals and replenishes
populations. “The view of the Sunday Nation is that the Draft
Wildlife Policy should be thrown out of the window, together with
the committee that wrote it,” the editorial concluded.

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