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NGOs accused of making baseless claims on ivory trafficking
Date Published: 26 Oct, 2012
Non-governmental organisations have been asked to work with the government in conservation rather than engaging in persistent and often baseless criticism.
Immediate former KWS Director Julius Kipng’etich accused some wildlife NGOs of minting millions of dollars from donors in the name of conserving wildlife in Kenya but had little to show for it.
He accused some NGO activists of making baseless claims against KWS to attract funding that’s channeled to their own private benefit.
He termed this a “betrayal of conservation”, adding that reckless comments were demoralizing KWS rangers who work in difficult circumstances protecting Kenya’s wildlife.
Mr Kipng’etich invited interested NGOs to audit Kenya’s stockpile to verify the status of government wildlife trophies, noting that most of the ivory that had been seized in Asian countries had not been traced to Kenyan elephant populations.
Mr Kipng’etich cited a few genuine conservation NGOs and thanked them for their consistent and continued support. The NGOs cited for praise included the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), African Conservation Centre (ACC), Rhino Ark, Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Mr Kipng’etich noted that some NGO activists thrive on bashing KWS staff in the media, terming this as “unfair and in bad taste”.
He said: “In all the institutions I have been privileged to head, I have never seen such dedicated and passionate people who diligently carry out their duties like the staff at KWS.”
Mr Kipng’etich added that such dedication from the staff had sometimes led to them paying the ultimate price of death at the hands of poachers while in the line of duty. He termed ‘heartbreaking’ the fact that the service had lost six rangers this year alone to poachers.
He was speaking on Wednesday during a farewell dinner in his honour at the Nairobi National Park.
The well-attended dinner was graced by senior government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives from the tourism and wildlife sector, KWS Board of Trustees members, KWS senior management a number of CEO’s including Mr Titus Naikuni (Kenya Airways), Mr Martin Oduor-Otieno (KCB) and Mr Richard Lesiyampe (Kenyatta National Hospital), among others.
Key speakers at the ceremony included the Nairobi Provincial Commissioner, Mr. Njoroge Ndirangu, who represented the Head of Civil Service, Mr. Francis Kimemia, the KWS Board of Trustees Chairman, Hon. David Mwiraria, the new KWS Director, Mr. William Kiprono and the President of the African Wildlife Foundation, Dr. Helen Gichohi.
Mr. Kipng’etich said his greatest regret during his tenure was the failure of the passage of the Wildlife and Policy Bill. He blamed the failure on some of the main players in the wildlife industry, whom he accused of selfish interests and short-sightedness.
The speakers praised Mr. Kipngetich’s management style that saw the transformation of KWS from a poorly run and managed organization to an efficiently-run corporate entity.
The new KWS Director, Mr. William Kiprono, said that the foundation which his predecessor had laid will enable KWS tackle the incredible and dynamic challenges that lay ahead of climate change, illegal firearms, volatility of tourism industry, population growth, heightened poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products, degraded and shrinking wildlife habitats and increased human wildlife conflict with great determination.
Kipng’etich is largely credited with key notable achievements that include the steady recovery in population of key endangered species and formation of several management and conservation strategies, the branding of 23 national parks and reserves, KWS receiving ISO certification and Several Company of the Year Awards, including CEO of the Year (2009) and initiating the acquisition of more than one million acres of community land for wildlife conservation, including 17,000-square km Laikipia National Park.
He also oversaw the implementation of the Sh150 million Beach Management Programme which has turned round the dwindling fortunes of Kenya’s coastal tourism and securing funding for East and Central Africa’s first forensic and genetic laboratory.
Before his appointment to KWS in 2005, he was the Managing Director of Investment Promotion Council. He also served as Director of the Student Welfare Authority, University of Nairobi, where he lectured in the Department of Management Science.
Mr. Kipng’etich resigned from KWS last month after being at the helm of the organization for the past eight years. He now serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Equity Bank.