Kenya recently joined the rest of the world in marking the first ever world wildlife day at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters in Nairobi.
The United Nations General Assembly designated March 3rd as the World Wildlife Dayto celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.
In Kenya, the day was marked with pomp and colour as various leading conservationists, government officials and representatives from NGOs across the country gathered at the KWS headquarters to reflect and celebrate Kenya’s well endowed wildlife.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Principal Secretary State Department for Environment and Natural Resources Dr. Richard Lesiyampe, Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu noted that Kenya’s long conservation journey has been marked by tremendous successes since independence.
“The country today boasts of more than 50 parks and reserves managed by the government through KWS,” Prof Wakhungu said.With over 25,000 species of wildlife, and 7000 species of plants, Kenya ranks highly as one of the biodiversity rich countries in Africa.
The hallmark of the country’s conservation history however is the enactment of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 which became operational at the start of this year that provides stiffer penalties for wildlife related crimes.
In addition to this, the new law provides for the establishment of County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation committees, community wildlife associations and wildlife managers, in each county.
This provision encourages more involvement of communities in the conservation and management of terrestrial wildlife and marine resources thereby distributing some of the benefits accrued from wildlife conservation in line with the new law.
However, the Cabinet Secretary noted that poaching still remains the greatest challenge to wildlife conservation, not just in Kenya but the entire world in general.She reaffirmed her ministry will continue to provide all the necessary support to KWS in order to stem out the crime.
At the same time, the KWS Acting Director General Mr William Kiprono appealed to all Kenyans and the entire international community to support the implementation of the new law with a view to securing the country’s wildlife for posterity. The day was also marked with entertainment from the International Youth Fellowship, poems and dances from various schools as well as a number of different wildlife exhibitions.
On 20th December , 2013, the Sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as World Wildlife Day, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.
In its resolution, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions, including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being, and recognized the important role of CITES in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the species’ survival.