Kenya hunting ban under fire

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  October 2012: (Actually published on November 1,  2012.)


NAIROBI,  Kenya–The Kenyan cabinet on October 11,  2012 ratified plans to hold a national election on March 4,  2013,  and with that certain to grab the media spotlight,  ratified a new national wildlife policy,  leaving the African Network for Animal Welfare “very busy yet again battling machinations to introduce sport hunting through the back door,  mobilizing communities and civil society organizations at a very short notice,”  ANAW founder Josphat Ngonyo e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE.

Sport hunting has been illegal in Kenyan wildlife reserves since 1977,  and throughout Kenya since 1987. The cabinet claimed to have provided “a comprehensive institutional framework for managing wildlife,  human wildlife conflict,  and compensation,”  which “ensures that wildlife is beneficial to those who live with the wildlife.”

. Responded Ngonyo in the Nairobi newspaper The Nation,  “Like everyone else who has diligently followed and participated in the unnecessarily long process of drafting this law,  I could not bring myself to believe that senior officers at the Forestry & Wildlife ministry would have the temerity to dupe everybody in Kenya.  Kenya drafted a wildlife law and policy in 2007 through a tedious, give-and-take negotiation process that began [in 2004] immediately after President Mwai Kibaki refused to assent to a [pro-hunting] bill sponsored by former Laikipia West member of Parliament G.G. Kariuki. These people [the current cabinet] have incorporated clauses that are totally inimical to wildlife conservation and which are bound to severely affect Kenya’s goals in the tourism industry.”

. Added Ngonyo in a media release.  “Pressure has been exerted by foreign bilateral agencies and international non-governmental organizations to ensure that the draft law legalized practices that would eventually lead to the demise of Kenya’s wildlife.”  U.S.-based organizations including the African Wildlife Foundation and Safari Club International and the Kenya-based Laikipia Wildlife Forum,  an association of landowners,  sought to prevent the Kenyan ban on sport hunting before it was introduced,  and have sought to repeal it ever since.  USAid actively opposed the sport hunting ban during the George W. Bush administration.

. Reminded Ngonyo,  “In early 2005,  President Kibaki said, ‘Any amendment that opens the window to legalize hunting could open the flood gate that could decimate our wildlife population and therefore kill our tourism industry.’  But though the new Draft Wildlife Management & Conservation Bill 2012 [technically] outlaws sport hunting,  it sgives the relevant minister the powers to license game ranchers to crop animals which it defines as ‘harvesting of animals for a range of products.’      “Besides this,”  Ngonyo pointed out, “the new bill allows for the sale of live animals,  culling wildlife,  trade in trophies such as ivory,  rhino horns,  and hides of wild animals,  and [allows for] donation of wild animals to other countries.”

. Kibaki in November 2005 agreed to send as many as 300 animals of 30 species to the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo in Thailand,  but the transaction was canceled in July 2006 as result of litigation and public opposition generated by ANAW and Youth for Conservation, founded by Ngonyo in 1999.

. “When we went around the country in 2007,  local people in 16 out of 21 wildlife regions were very clear that they wanted nothing to do with sport hunting,  cropping,  culling,  or any other forms of utilization that would result in killing wildlife,”  said Ngonyo.

. Steve Itela,  heading Youth for Conservation since Ngonyo left to form ANAW in 2005,  pointed out that the new policy approved by cabinet “does not devolve to counties relevant administrative functions related to wildlife conservation and management,”  which may be cause for a constitutional challenge,  and inadequately addresses compensation of people who are killed or injured by wild animals,  or lose crops and property to wildlife depredation.

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