The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has accumulated Sh4.4 billion in losses that have left it technically insolvent, according to a newly-released report on the agency’s finances.
Auditor- General Edward Ouko says KWS, which is the primary State agency charged with wildlife conservation, reported a deficit of Sh680.5 million in the financial year ended June 2015, its latest audited period.
This came on the back of a Sh3.7 billion deficit that the agency had accumulated in the year to June 2014, pushing the total to Sh4.4 billion.
“During the year under review, the service recorded a deficit of Sh680.5 million…bringing accumulated deficit to Sh4.4 billion,” Mr Ouko says in a qualified audit report he submitted to Parliament last week.
Mr Ouko says the continued sustainability of the service is therefore dependent on regular government, creditors and/or development partners’ support.
“This scenario is untenable considering the vital importance of wildlife conservation for the present and future generations as envisioned in the Constitution of Kenya,” Mr Ouko says in the audit report dated June 16, 2016.
The KWS has continued to record deficits that mainly arise from compensation claims for victims of wildlife attacks as well as destruction of property by wild animals.
KWS blames the huge compensation claims on Parliament’s decision to amend the Wildlife Management and Conservation Act 2013 that left the taxpayer with a Sh4.83 billion bill by end of June 2016.
The law requires KWS to pay a minimum Sh5 million compensation for every life lost. The KWS wants Parliament to review the compensation rates to levels the agency can afford to pay from own revenues.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources says the compensation claims for death and injury alone stood at Sh2.3 billion by June 2016.
Michael Kipkeu, senior assistant director of community wildlife service at the KWS, last year told the National Assembly’s Environment and Natural Resources committee that the bulk of the compensation bill arose from deaths as a result of snake bites.