, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 10 – President Mwai Kibaki has affirmed government’s commitment to step up conservation activities in the country to protect the country’s wildlife as a national heritage.
President Kibaki asserted that the government would in collaboration with key stakeholders facilitate the creation of protected areas where the country’s wildlife would roam freely and minimize human wildlife conflict.
The President was speaking at his Harambee House Office when he received a title deed for a 17,100 acre piece of land which has been designated as Laikipia National Park.
Appreciating that the government recognises the role of conservation and tourism in the country’s economy, he said that priority would be given in the process of opening relevant corridors for wildlife migration.
President Kibaki also underscored the importance to create awareness among wananchi on the need to support various conservation initiatives in the country.
He thanked the two leading international bodies for their role in the conservation efforts and for their kind gesture in donating the national park.
He asserted that the country had adequate land to create protected areas for the wildlife as well as for human settlement and farming.
“The government is convinced and committed to wildlife conservation in the natural habitat,” asserted the President.
The newest national park in the country which hosts hundreds of varied species of wildlife was donated by the African Wildlife Foundation in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.
The Laikipia National Park provides a critical link between neighbouring protected areas allowing elephants, rhinos, big cats and other species to safely navigate a wildlife corridor that spans Central Laikipia.
Laikipia National Park was acquired from private conservationists at a cost of Sh393 million and was targeted for acquisition and be put under government stewardship due to its strategic location in regional wildlife linkage.
The outgoing Chairman African Wildlife Foundation Dennis Keller presented the ownership documents to President Kibaki. He expressed delight and optimism that the handing of the national park to government would herald new levels of wildlife protection in the area.
The AWF Vice-Chairman and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa thanked President Kibaki and the government for according the conservation bodies steadfast support in their endeavours.
Mkapa commended Kenya for being at the forefront of conservation efforts which he affirmed had made the country’s tourism sector world renowned thus becoming a model in Africa.
In attendance were assistant minister Josephat Nanok, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura, Director Kenya Wildlife Service Julius Kipngetich and other senior government officials.