Community participation helping fight poaching - Daily Nation

Report shows community involvement helping reduce human-wildlife conflict

Thursday April 23 2015

Elephants at the Lewa Conservancy. Big animals like elephants and rhinos are prone to over-exploitation since they mature and reproduce slowly.  PHOTO | MINDEN PICTURES | TUI DE ROY | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Elephants at the Lewa Conservancy. Big animals like elephants and rhinos are prone to over-exploitation since they mature and reproduce slowly. PHOTO | MINDEN PICTURES | TUI DE ROY | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
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Enabling communities to benefit from tourism is the surest way to endear them to environmental and wildlife conservation.

Lewa Conservancy, in its just released annual report, said its closer working relationship with neighbouring communities had seen it make history in 2014 where none of its 156 rhinos were affected by poaching as reported in other areas.

Lewa’s Chief Executive Mike Watson and its chairman Mr Michael Joseph said they were committed to nurturing the passion for conservation among community members so as to ensure a share of tourism revenue is used to improve their livelihoods.

This will be done through offering them jobs and implementing of community-oriented projects.

Mr Watson said that the relevance of wildlife and its conservation to the lives of people living in wildlife-rich areas must be addressed on beneficial terms so as to influence policies even in county governments that must recognise the separate entities (wildlife and people) that must co-exist.

“Poverty reduction is our core value in enhancing wildlife conservation where communities are actively involved in anti-poaching activities.

“We are ready to help the Sera community to establish Kenya’s first community run rhino sanctuary,” he said.

HELPED IMPROVE SECURITY

The report observes that establishment of community-run conservancies had also helped improve security as well as bringing communities together to discuss ways of improving their lives. These included formation of self-help groups as well as direct provision of jobs to locals in the conservancies.

Preservation of pasture had also seen the mainly pastoralist communities earn handsome returns from the sale of cattle via an inter-community conservancies’ trust, the Northern Kenya Community Trust.

Lewa’s head of the anti-poaching team Mr Edward Ndiritu said that major strides had been made through concerted efforts to enhance co-operation with the county government which had improved security in the region thereby ensuring the safety of wildlife and neighbouring communities.

He said that there was a need for other county governments to include wildlife sanctuary representatives in county tourism and security committees so as to chart the way forward towards effective enforcement of law that ensures security for people and wildlife.