Kenya’s Wildlife: A Success Story Still in the Making?
Public Lecture — February 21, 2019 — Nairobi, Kenya
In Partnership With Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Nature Kenya & National Museums of Kenya
Dr. David Western, ACC Founder and Chairman, gave a public lecture at the National Museums of Kenya recently, titled “Kenya’s Wildlife: A Success Story Still in the Making?” focused on the journey of conservation in Kenya from its independence to current times.
In 1963, Kenya’s new government initially excluded communities in the management of wildlife. As a young doctoral student, Western gave a public lecture at the National Museums of Kenya and proposed that Kenya’s government should engage communities in wildlife conservation, since pastoral communities who keep livestock have co-existed with wildlife for centuries. His clarion call was that the future of wildlife was beyond parks because the majority of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside the protected parks and reserves.
Migration of livestock and wildlife are identical. They move to the same place.
Dr. David Western
Western began his Amboseli Conservation Programme in 1967, a research project that conserves Amboseli’s wildlife and its ecosystem to the benefit of its people. He emphasized the importance of involving all custodians of wildlife.
Kenya is seen as a world pioneer of ecotourism and tourism outside of parks that involves local communities as the custodians.
Dr. David Western
More than 50 years later, Western underscored the role of Kenya’s first President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, in setting the momentum for conserving wildlife, habitats and forests and declaring them of great value to livelihoods and the country’s legacy.
Western also spoke about the important role Wildlife Clubs of Kenya plays in educating children about wildlife and conservation. So far, more than 6 million children who are WCK members have visited different game parks and reserves in Kenya.
Moving forward, Western recommended more devolvement of wildlife protection to communities who live with wildlife. He suggested there is a need to set up more institutions and partnerships that will collaborate in implementing policies that go beyond the “big five” animals. He noted that ACC’s Institutional Canopy of Conservation (I-CAN) Project, which focuses on empowering and engaging community organizations in Kenya and Tanzania, is a good example of collaboration. Of Kenya’s 35,500 species of plants and animals, only about 350 are actively managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. He believes more community engagement and collaboration will increase wildlife numbers and increase tourism capacity fivefold.