Plan to reintroduce sale of game meat to boost tourism


Mr Najib Balala, Tourism secretary. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Kenya is seeking to reintroduce selling of game meat at restaurants and hotels to boost competitiveness of the facilities on the global culinary landscape.

Tourism secretary for tourism Najib Balala said his ministry will undertake research over the next year on farming of game ahead of the re-introduction.

“We must benefit from this (game) resource, my team is working on it and definitely we will encourage the farming of wildlife and then we will have availability of game meat being sold in our restaurants and our hotels,” he said during the opening of Tamarind Tree Hotel in Nairobi.

Restaurants, including the Carnivore, have been lobbying the government to allow for the re-introduction since the 2004 ban, which only allows for sale of ostrich and crocodile.

Carnivore had been selling game meat since it was established in the early 1980s, but what it had been associated with for over two decades stopped abruptly, cutting out game meat enthusiasts from its customer base.

It has now become more of an events-hosting entertainment facility rather than the game meat haven it was famed for.

READ: Hoteliers push for lifting of game meat sale and import ban

Killing of wildlife for sport was introduced in Kenya in 1910, but was banned in 1977 when the number of certain species fell drastically.

The poaching concern led to the ban on the sale or import of game meat despite constant lobbying by restaurants. Since then, visitors expecting to sample game meat of antelopes, gazelles, zebras, wildebeests among other wild animals have had to bear with whetting their appetites with ostrich and crocodile.

Wildlife species that have significantly declined and are critically threatened in Kenya include elephants, rhinos, Grevy Zebra, bongos, lions and cheetahs, among others. Some are hunted in conflict, for game meat and trophies.

There are only 30 Sable antelopes in Kenya currently, 3,765 Grevy zebras and less than 2,000 lions, according to KWS data submitted to Parliament. The numbers are set to keep dropping if these animals are not protected.