Strategic Goal C: Target 12 To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
Target 12: By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.
Ivory burning to protect the endangered Elephant
The Wildlife Conservation Management Act of 2013 (WCMA, 2013) provide for the protection, conservation, sustainable use and management of wildlife in Kenya and for connected purposes.
The National Wildlife Strategy 2030 developed in June, 2018 creates an enabling environment under pillar one to build resilience for species conservation in the protected areas.
The National Forest Programme 2016-2030 identifies loss of protected areas as a challenge towards forest management and conservation. It seeks under its strategy on water shed management to increase acreage of protected areas. The National Strategy for achieving and Maintaining 10% Tree Cover by 2022 has been launched. The Fisheries Act 2016 also provide an avenue for conservation and management of the Marine Protected areas and other aquatic resources to enhance the livelihood of the communities dependent on the resources
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013; The East African Customs and Management Act, 2004 (Rev. 2008); EMCA, 2015; are among the key legislation for penalties, seizures and confiscation, and permitting. In 2014, the Government enhanced the penalties under the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013, to curb the illegal trade in endangered species.
The National Wildlife Strategy 2030 launched in June, 2018, forms the blueprint for wildlife conservation and management in the country. In order to have a comprehensive and coordinated policy framework, the Government is reviewing the 1975 Wildlife Policy.
The 2017 IUCN list of threatened species showed that Kenya had 463 plant and animal species which were threatened. These include 30 mammal, 43 bird, 73 fish and 234 plant species. The broad classification by IUCN while listing threatened species includes. Critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened, least concern, data deficient, and not evaluated. (KWS report 2017).
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WCMA, 2013) in schedule 6 lists 245 wildlife species under various categories of threats ranging from critically endangered to protected species. The Act requires that the status of these species be reported to the National Assembly every 2years and the recovery measures being implemented to restore the said species be indicated. Focus is given to the conservation status of endangered listed species, their habitats and factors that influence their population trends. Whereas the listed number of species in schedule 6 is 245, only 31 species recovery plans have been developed out of which 13 have since expired.
Kenya has designated the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as CITES Management Authority and the National Museums of Kenya as the CITES Scientific Authority as required by the Convention.
Due to limited human resource and technical capacity on some specific areas, there is inadequate information on some of the listed species thus their population status is listed as data deficient. Remnant population of some of the listed species are non viable e.g. the Roan antelope and the bearded vulture. The management through the MOE&NR has requested for two herds of roan antelopes and a pair bearded vulture from the People Republic of Tanzania and Ethiopia respectively thus require follow up.
Rhinos: Three out of five sub-species of rhinos in the world are found in Kenya. The Black rhino – Diceros bicornis michaeli is native to the country while the Southern white rhino – Ceratotherium simum simum and the Northern white rhino Ceratotherium simum cottoni are exotic. In the 1970’s Kenya had a population of 20,000 black rhinos widely spread mainly in the protected areas. Presently there are 10 black rhino sanctuaries in National Parks with two of the parks, Tsavo East and West having free ranging rhinos in Intensive Protection Zones (IPZ). Only Masai Mara National Reserve- – is a rhino Reserve and 8 Conservancies have rhino sanctuaries. Both the White and Black Rhino have shown a positive trend in their population growth This can be attributed to a number of factors among them: the creation of specific rhino sanctuaries, Heightened security against poaching, strict control of diseases, and development and implementation of a National Rhino strategy.
The Government submitted twenty (20) proposals at CITES COP 18 in Geneva, Switzerland, 2019, 19 of which successfully went through. The proposal to restrict trade in elephant ivory and rhino horns among other species which were considered at COP 18 in Geneva in August, 2019. The proposed revisions aimed at strengthening the language in the Resolution 10.10 on elephants and in Resolution 9.14 on rhinoceroses to restrict any ivory and rhino horn trade, by ensuring all domestic ivory markets across the globe are closed; enhanced management by parties of ivory and rhino horn stock piles to ensure such stocks do not leak from Government stores into the illegal markets; and in Resolution 11.20 to restrict trade in live elephants to only apply for purposes of promoting conservation of the species only in-situ respectively. The proposal further aimed at countering proposals to trade in rhino and rhino horns. COP 18 approved the proposed changes. In adopting the changes in Resolution 11.20 the COP approved a near complete ban on capturing and sending African elephants from their natural habitats to zoos and other captive facilities abroad.
Kenya’s proposal on Pancake Tortoise were adopted.Kenya’s proposals forty-four (44) and forty-five (45) for inclusion of White-Spotted Wedge Fish and Teat Fish, respectively, to regulate trade through CITES permits and certificates were approved. Proposal 5 to include Giraffe in Appendix II was accepted overwhelmingly. Decisions adopted at the CITES COP 18 entered into force on 26th November, 2019, for implementation. However, the decision on the listing of the Teat Fish in Appendix II will enter into force in November, 2020.
Kenya’s participation to and adequate representation at COP 18 was instrumental in the realization of the following conservation milestones:
- The rejection by CITES of lifting the international ivory trade ban means that the international trade ban in ivory and rhino horns remains;
stringent regulation on live elephant trade to only allow any transfer of live elephants to appropriate and acceptable destinations within the elephant’s natural range; strict and time bound compliance requirements for those countries that still have domestic ivory markets to work towards closing such markets and report to CITES on a regular basis the efforts being made to achieve the measure and to ensure their trade do not contribute to poaching and illegal ivory trade.