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Sound policies needed to shield endangered wildlife

A pile of seized ivory that was set ablaze at Nairobi National Park in the war on illegal trade in game trophies in March 2015. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A pile of seized ivory that was set ablaze at Nairobi National Park in the war on illegal trade in game trophies in March 2015. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Biodiversity protection laws are the branch of environmental legislations that seek to conserve living organisms in terrestrial, marine or aquatic ecosystems. It is not easy to define what biodiversity law is.

Laws on the conservation of endangered species are examples of legislation on protection of biodiversity. For example, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species lists the elephant and black rhino as endangered species.

There are several laws on protection of biodiversity and Kenya has signed quite a number of treaties and conventions related to the environment.

One such convention allows member states to identify the biodiversity in their countries and come up with measures to protect such resources.

The convention provides that protection should be done at the site (in-situ) meaning that conservation efforts should be done at the place where such diversity is found.

Kenya is rich in biological diversity both terrestrial and aquatic and has been lauded as having strong conservation policies. A good example of this is the ban on poaching or hunt in marine or terrestrial national parks.

The penal terms are very high and prohibitive. In other regions such as West African countries, wild animals (bush meat) find their way to the dinner table.

There have been efforts to protect plant diversity through the forestry department and a number of private institutions also have made efforts to protect plant diversity, for example, botanical gardens and parks.

Conservation in Kenya is currently done by public and private enterprises and at times through joint collaborations. There is a lot being done to raise conservationist awareness, for example, the just concluded Rhino Charge.

I am happy that the government appreciates the importance of protecting biodiversity and indeed there are a lot of conservationists in Kenya.

One strong reason to enhance protection is to preserve this heritage for future generations. The country earns a lot of foreign exchange due to the protection of biodiversity from entry fees to protected parks. Protection also reduces the impact of climatic change.

With increased urbanisation especially in the counties, increased construction and population growth I wish more was done to conserve the biological diversity.

While it is difficult to control what a private individual does with their land, sensitisation programmes and at times outright acquisition by conservationist groups or the county governments may be a solution.

Environmental rights are now constitutional and it is possible to initiate public policy actions so as to conserve the environment. Conservationists and activists should take advantage of the laws to fight for the protection of the environment as long as this does not interfere with other laws.

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