Kenya has committed to tighten wildlife conservation measures to boost its efforts against poaching and wildlife crimes.

Speaking during the inaugural Giants Club Summit in Nanyuki on Friday, Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu announced that her ministry will create an in-house protection unit within the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to help scale up the conviction rate of people involved in wildlife crimes.

Prof Wakhungu – who was addressing the historic summit hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and attended by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda – said Kenya will also construct a 120 kilometre electric fence to smallholder conservancies across, starting with Tsavo and Laikipia areas.

“Kenya also commits to upgrade and improve the KWS mobile game capture unit to enhance the response time and management of human-wildlife conflict incidences,” Prof Wakhungu said in Nanyuki.
She disclosed that a new source of revenue, including an endowment fund, will also be created to support the maintenance and management of Kenya’s wildlife protected areas.

The summit saw several world leaders – including US President Barack Obama – pledge to support Kenya and Africa’s conservation efforts, especially the fight against the illegal ivory trade.

President Obama, in a message delivered by Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom, said the US is supporting community conservancies in Kenya through the Northern Rangeland Trust with $ 20 million as well as a $ 4 million program for the Maasai Mara nature conservancy association.

The US President commended President Kenyatta’s efforts in wildlife conservation.

He noted that the inaugural Giants Club summit, which precedes the largest ever public ivory burn in the world, sends strong and clear signals that the devastating impact of poaching and illicit trade in ivory will not be tolerated.

President Obama recalled that during his visit to Kenya last July, he underscored the close partnership between countries in the fight against wildlife poachers and traffickers.

Deputy Secretary of State Higginbottom said the community conservancy model in Kenya was extremely effective.

“Under the Northern Rangeland Trust conservancy support, elephant poaching was reduced by 46 per cent over a period of two years,” the US Deputy Secretary of State said.

She said the US Government is the largest bilateral donor to the conservation sector in Kenya with over $ 50 million in support of biodiversity and wildlife conservation.

Other leaders who sent messages of solidarity and support included Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

A number of international organisations, philanthropists and businesses also pledged their support to conservation efforts in Africa. (PSCU)