Kenya

Overall IWT context: 

Kenya has lost 25 percent of its elephant and rhino populations in recent years due to poaching. Kenya has been criticised in open forums and particularly at the CITES Conference of the Parties in 2013 for its failure to tackle wildlife crimes effectively. The country has been identified as one of top 3 countries of greatest concern for trafficking of ivory out of Africa and it has been reported that more ivory is moving through and out of Kenya (as well as Tanzania and South Africa) at the present time than any other countries in Africa.

Community involvement policy context: 

All forms of consumptive wildlife use have been banned in Kenya since 1977.  Community conservation occurs in the form of locally protected areas on Group Ranches or trust land termed "conservancies" - often established based on contractual agreements with tourism companies. Prior to 2009, however, community based natural resource management was constrained by the fact that the communally owned/managed land was not recognised - it was either private or state. The new land policy in 2009 brought about fuundamental changes by recognising communal tenure. There was also no official recognition or definition of a conservancy until the 2013 Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, despite their existence for some 20 years prior. Kenya now has over 140 private and community conservancies covering over 7.5 million acres of land in 22 counties.

National policy context for IWT: 

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 came into force in Kenya in 2014 following criticism of Kenya’s previous law as ‘weak and antiquated’. The New Act contains more severe punishments for wildlife offences than the previous legislation including creating four offences which are punishable by imprisonment. There are 4 categories of wildlife crime: (1) hunting offences; (2) trading offences; (3) licensing offences; and (4) damaging offences. Penalties for such offences include revocation/suspension of licenses and/or permits, confiscation of property, monetary fines and terms of imprisonment. The most serious offences under Kenyan wildlife legislation are hunting and trading offences in respect of endangered or threatened species or in relation to trophies in respect of endangered or threatened species for which the penalty is a fine of not less than KES20m (USD 232, 964.48) and/or life imprisonment

Following the end of commercial hunting in the region during the 1970s, local people used firearms purchased from Somali refugees to poach wildlife indiscriminately. By the late 1980s, elephant populations had been significantly reduced and rhinos had disappeared.

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Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT) was established in 2000 by the Maasai of Kuku Group Ranch as a grassroots conservation trust. The trust focuses on the Maasai landscape and the communities of Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, which are set within the Amboseli-Tsavo region of southern Kenya.

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The Kasigau Corridor REDD project in southeastern Kenya is designed to bring direct financing for carbon emissions reduction to communities while securing the wildlife migration corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks through which over 500 African elephants migrate seasonally.

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The project started in 2001 and brings together communities, the African Wildlife Foundation, Big Life Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service, Tanzania Wildlife Division and Tanzania National Parks.

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Elephants, big cats and Maasai giraffe are among the species to benefit from the community conservancy initiative in which local landowners are paid to protect wildlife in a key corridor on the south east boundary of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

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Community conservancies are proving increasingly effective as partners in the fight against ivory poachers in Kenya. In the north of the country, conservancies now manage more than 2.5 million hectares of community land, much of it critical range for the African elephant.

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