NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – Forestry and Wildlife Minister Dr Noah Wekesa has said that he will present the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Draft Bill to the Cabinet for approval before the end of the year.
Mr Wekesa said on Monday that he was hopeful the Bill, which was revised to take into consideration the input from various stakeholders, would be tabled before Parliament in the next few months.
“We allowed this (the input) so that at the end it will represent the wishes of Kenyans. It is ready now and I’m hoping Parliament will debate it before the end of December,” he said.
The new draft, he said, addresses issues such as the participation of communities living around the country’s National Parks and how both the wildlife and the people can benefit from such cooperation.
Currently, the country is being guided by the Wildlife Legislation, which was enacted in 1975.
The Bill proposes the establishment of the Kenya Wildlife Regulatory Authority to control and manage conservation issues. It will be expected to formulate legislation for sustainable wildlife conservation and management, mitigate conflict between people and wildlife, as well as issue licenses among other responsibilities.
On the contentious issue of sports hunting, the Bill retains the ban on (sport hunting), but provides for the killing of “excess” wildlife in game farming and ranching operations.
“The Bill is very innovative; it has addressed the issues of human settlements that are impacting negatively on the wildlife in the parks as well the human wildlife conflict,” he explained.
At the same time, Mr Wekesa assured the public that the country has not lost many wildlife animals from poisoning but admits that several others have died due to the ongoing drought.
“We investigated this report but discovered that not many animals have died. However, several hippos have died in Tana River because of drought. I want to appeal to Kenyans to take the issue of forest conservation very seriously,” said the Minister, who has been a strong proponent of the rehabilitation of the Mau complex.
Mr Wekesa spoke during the official opening of the Africa Animal Welfare Workshop which brought together (animal welfare) representatives from across the continent.
The two-day conference sought to come up with ways to collaborate and network amongst the continent’s welfare organisations in tackling the challenges that they face and reduce the myriad of cases of cruelty to animals.