The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has appointed Mr Kitili Mbathi as the new Director General, ending a process that has been rocked by controversy.
Mr Mbathi, the former CFC Stanbic Bank CEO takes the position which was previously headed by Mr Wilson Kiprono, in an acting capacity.
Mr Kiprono, who is now the Mandera County Commissioner, took the reins of KWS following the exit of Dr Julius Kipng'etich who was picked by Equity Bank as the chief operating officer.
Dr Kipng'etich is now the Uchumi supermarkets CEO.
The appointment of Mr Mbathi for a three-year term, however, comes amid controversy as he was selected following a second round of interviews after the board of trustees cancelled the first one.
Those who had been interviewed following the first advertisement accused the board, chaired by renowned conservationist Dr Richard Leakey, of trying to manipulate it.
Those with inside information questioned why the board decided to cancel the results of the first recruitment yet at least three candidates scored above 70 per cent, which is above the average required.
But on Monday, both Dr Leakey and Environment Cabinet Secretary Prof Judy Wakhungu said Mr Mbathi was selected on “merit” and “without any political interference”.
“This is a historical event in that the new DG has been appointed following a rigorous process free from any political interference,” said Dr Leakey when Mr Mbathi was presented to the media at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi.
And Prof Wakhungu added, “Mr Mbathi has an impeccable leadership and financial management record and we will support him in his work.”
Asked what agenda he had for KWS, Mr Mbathi said he was not yet ready to share his vision as “I am not yet very familiar with my office.”
He said he would first visit all regional offices and parks and also hold a board meeting before detailing what he intends to do.
The new DG has his in-tray full already.
He is expected to tackle increased wildlife poaching, illegal trade in the endangered sandalwood species and increased human-wildlife conflicts among other issues.
Mr Mbathi, 57, previously worked with Kenya's Ministry of Finance and Planning as Investment Secretary and Privatisation Coordinator.
He also worked in Stanbic Bank Kenya as General Manager in Charge of Treasury and Corporate Finance.
In Nairobi, he also worked with Citibank NA, Barclays Merchant Finance Limited, and Commercial Bank of Africa.
Mbathi went to Nairobi's Lenana School before joining University of Michigan for a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science.
He holds a Master of Banking and Finance for Development degree from Institute Finafrica in Milan, Italy.