Treasury to take over payment of wildlife victims

A herd of elephants at Burgret village near Nanyuki town. photo | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
A herd of elephants at Burgret village near Nanyuki town. photo | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

The Treasury will take over the responsibility of compensation for wildlife injuries and deaths from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), which is struggling to clear claims worth Sh4.8 billion, if new rules tabled in Parliament become law.

Environment and Natural Resources secretary Judi Wakhungu has published rules that will guide the compensation scheme for victims of wildlife injury, death or destruction of property.

The rules state that the Treasury should set up an insurance scheme to cater for compensation of wildlife-linked injuries and deaths.

“The wildlife compensation scheme established under section 24 of the Act shall be funded through an insurance scheme to be established by the Cabinet secretary responsible for matters relating to finance,” the proposed law states.

It is not clear whether the Treasury will tap private insurers for the scheme. Claims from January 10, 2014 will be done via the insurance scheme and must be lodged within sixty days of the coming into effect of the regulations.

The new law offers reprieve to the KWS which has been struggling to stay afloat.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko in his latest report tabled in Parliament concluded that the KWS is technically insolvent after posting loses to the tune of Sh4.4 billion in the year to June 2015. “This scenario is untenable considering the vital importance of wildlife conservation as envisioned in the Constitution,” Mr Ouko said.

According to the Act, compensation will be pegged at Sh5 million for death, Sh3 million for permanent disability and Sh2 million for any other injury depending on the extent.

KWS owes about Sh4.83 billion to wildlife victims. The parastatal wants Parliament to review compensation rates to make them affordable, adding that the bulk of the bill arises from death as a result of snake bites.

The KWS is lobbying Parliament to amend the Act to remove claims for snake bites and destruction of crops in order to sustain the huge bill.

Under the new rules, there will be no compensation for injury, death or property loss suffered in protected areas.