Kenyans support the consumption of game meat, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has said, citing a report by the Task force on Consumptive Wildlife Utilisation. According to Mulei Muia, the director of public communications at the ministry, countrywide consultations “indicated much support for consumptive wildlife use among Kenyans generally, provided there are proper and strict regulations in place.”
In a statement released at the end of last month following the Cabinet Secretary’s receipt of the task force’s report, Mr Muia added that there was “widespread rejection of any attempts to introduce trophy hunting given the current circumstances and challenges.”
Conservationists have argued that allowing the commercial and communal consumption of game meat is a gateway to poaching and the subsequent extinction of wildlife.
“I went to Laikipia, Lamu, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Mara, Amboseli and Magadi and it is not true that Kenyans supported it. The only places they said they looked forward to it is Laikipia, Naivasha and Athi-Kapiti,” Director of Operations at the East African Wildlife Society Daniel Letoiye told HealthyNation.
“There are no structures to implement the legal slaughter of wildlife and wildlife population is too low to sustain hunting. What has changed from the time the ban was imposed in 2004? There are still challenges,” he said, adding that consumption of wildlife will only benefit a few rich people who can afford to run ranches, and not ordinary Kenyans.
“Wildlife numbers are declining fast. If we introduce this, we will have none left,” he added.
Simon Masago of the Mara Community Project said that poachers will take advantage and obtain hunting licenses if the report is implemented.
However, the ministry said that sections of the law enabling user rights and wildlife management would be improved to guard against this.
The African Wildlife Foundation, which supports the report, said that wildlife conservation efforts outside national parks have been hampered by over-reliance on photographic tourism
“Wildlife thrives in countries where communities have diverse revenue streams from wildlife, the key ones being sustainable utilisation of the resource,” said AWF Senior Director Programmes East and Southern Africa Alistair Pole.
“Evidence has shown that as long as any sustainable utilisation programme is well-monitored and regulated, it will have a beneficial impact on the wildlife population numbers and distribution as wildlife will have greater value and more communities and landowners may be encouraged to promote wildlife on their land,” he added, but noted that there would be need for effective monitoring to avoid long-term population declines.
Kenya’s wildlife and biodiversity is increasingly threatened with reports indicating that some animals may become extinct in the next two decades.
A report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services showed that global biodiversity has been declining in the last 50 years due to human activity and development.
According to the report, as many as one million animal and plant species are facing extinction several decades from now, with the most native species on land habitats having fallen by at least 20 per cent since 1900.