NAIROBI, May 8 – Kenya has launched a national wildlife census of both terrestrial and aquatic animals, the first-ever carried out in the country.

The two-month exercise is fully funded by the Kenyan government and will be carried out by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and the newly created Wildlife Research and Training Institute.

Wildlife enumerators will traverse the country’s conservation areas and wildlife-rich counties counting wild animals. Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala presided over the census official launch at Shimba Hills National Reserve in Kwale County on May 7. “The information generated during the census will support the implementation of the Government of Kenya conservation and tourism policies and support tools for adaptive management,” he said.

The number and distribution of rare and threatened species listed in Schedule Six of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (2013) require regular monitoring using standard methods, Balala said, adding that Kenya has never undertaken a national survey to establish baseline data of wildlife status and distribution in the country. “It is therefore important to undertake this National Survey to establish a baseline data on wildlife population status and distribution for future use to understand wildlife population trends and shifts in their distribution,” he said.

KWS Director-General, John Waweru, gave an assurance that the Service and Wildlife Research & Training Institute teams will carry out the census with the highest level of professionalism.

The Acting Director of Wildlife Research & Training Institute Patrick Omondi said the census will follow standard methods to count different species.