NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 11 – The government has set up an inter-ministerial committee to scrutinise operations at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for the next three months.
Environment and Natural Resources Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe says the team which comprises officials from the National Treasury, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and KWS will identify challenges in the wildlife conservation agency and recommend remedial action.
“It has become necessary for the government to get involved in the affairs of the KWS, especially on how it is run and managed. That is why we have instituted an investigation to understand the reasons why KWS does not have precise strategies to empower officers who are manning our national parks and reserves to ensure they are properly equipped to end the menace of poaching,” the PS noted.
“As a government, we have vowed to ensure that poachers will not carry out their activities in our parks, we will use all means including monitoring the parks from the air, we will use our own officers and some of us are ready to spill our blood to ensure that they will never repeat killing our wildlife heritage.”
This comes after the ministry announced that it had suspended six senior officers to pave way for investigations into the operations of the KWS.
William Waweru (Deputy Director Finance and Administration), Julius Kimani (Deputy Director Security), Tom Sipul (Deputy Director Corporate Services), Wesley Isanda (Head of Finance) and Christopher Oludhe (Head of Procurement) are among the officers who were affected by the decision which was arrived at following consultations between the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the KWS management.
“The poaching and trafficking in wildlife are trans-national problems that have increased in sophistication and scope, we want to understand why our efforts are not working and this investigation might give us insight to it,” Lesiyampe said.
“We want to understand why our officers on the ground have not received modern equipment such as night vision goggles, modern firearms and vehicles which will assist them in dealing with poaching. I also want to assure KWS staff that we have confidence and trust in them and that they should continue with their jobs, because there won’t be any more changes.”
The changes come after KWS endured weeks of bashing from conservationists for failing to end runaway poaching.
Acting KWS director William Kiprono last month downplayed what seemed to be an upsurge in poaching of elephant and rhino as he resisted calls from wildlife activists to declare the poaching of the two endangered species a national disaster.
He reported that 51 elephants and 11 rhinos had been killed this year alone with a notable increase in rhino poaching compared to elephants. KWS says Kenya lost 59 rhinos and 302 elephants in 2013 compared to 2012 in which 384 elephants and 30 rhinos were killed for their horn.
At least 249 suspects had been prosecuted for wildlife offences but most of them were set free after paying “minor fines.”