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Kakamega conservancy gets new year gift
Date Published: 05 Jan, 2012
Mr. Tom Amulavi Amisi , the Kisumu Impala Senior Warden points at an ostrich in the newly launched Kakamega Conservancy in Kakamega County on January 1, 2012.
The first community wildlife education, rescue and cultural centre has been established in Kakamega County.
The program was launched on January 1, 2012 and was officiated by Kenya Wildlife Service Officials and the local leadership and communities.
KWS proposes to have wildlife education, rescue and cultural centres in all the 47 counties. This will act as education and rescue centres for wildlife species as well as bio cultural centres for preservation and promotion of indigenous knowledge associated with wildlife across the country.
Documentation, preservation and use of indigenous knowledge associated with biodiversity have been recognized as one of the pillars for community participation, and provision of alternative income. Kakamega already has the indigenous knowledge wealth which has enabled the resident community to be integrated in various aspects as biodiversity tour guides, prediction of climate change, forensic, and basis of bio discovery in biotechnology venture.
Kakamega Environmental Education Program youth group (KEEP) conservancy in Kakamega County is the first to benefit from the programme. The group received, Ostriches, crocodiles and tortoises from KWS after they applied for a licence to commercially start a wildlife conservancy in the Southern part of the larger Kakamega Forest.
Kakamega forest is the only remnant tropical forest in Kenya. Based on folklore, the area is attributed to have been rich in wide range of wildlife. Overtime, the same has been decimated and thus the current generation cannot conceptualize these species.
KWS has facilitated establishment of various similar Wildlife Education and rescue centres which are providing alternative income to various groups in the country. Wildlife farming has been recognized as a lucrative business if well managed.
The conservancy which is being managed by the Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP) seeks to engage the community to learn conservation efforts and be commercially involved. That way, the Kakamega forest will be safeguarded indirectly by the community members being trained on policy issues and creation of jobs.
The other partners alongside KWS that have supported the centre include, the American Embassy which provided a grant of support in butterfly farming to KEEP and the Haber Charitable Foundation, an NGO based in the US, provided Ksh. 16 Million for land acquisition and construction of the conservancy.
Apart from the ostriches and the Nile crocodiles from KWS, the conservancy seeks to boast of other wildlife like snakes, monitor lizards, rabbits, primates, tortoises, terrapins, quails and chameleons. They also have a botanical garden that consists of over 600 species of indigenous trees.
KWS is seeking to ensure that communities around parks have the capability of sustaining themselves through projects in eco- tourism and community conservation programmes with other partners.
Mr. Ibrahim Lubia, the Assistant Director Regulatory and Compliance Affairs said that the biggest threat to wildlife is the changing land use and KWS has invested a lot in mitigating Wildlife – Human conflict across the country. He added that the community should be empowered to be aware of conservation efforts and be able to take part and participate fully in guarding this cherished national heritage, wildlife.
He applauded the community for being aggressive for setting in motion such a constructive idea since the conservancy is the first in Kakamega County. “All we require from you is proper governance, avoid negative politics and focus on setting structures that will enhance improvement of animal welfare within the conservancy” he added.
Such a great milestone will be beneficial to the community since it sits right at the centre of the western Tourism Circuit together with Kakamega Forest National Reserve. The conservancy seeks to also enhance programmes that will support conservation like cultural bomas and traditional dances.
The Isecheno community was also urged to be transparent in running the conservancy especially when it comes to benefit sharing.
The Kakamega Conservancy is located next to the Kakamega Forest National Reserve. KEEP was first registered by the ministry of culture and Social services in 1999 as a community based organisation. It has harboured volunteers from the community and KWS and other partners have trained them in conservation and work as guides and reduce destruction of the natural resource.
The conservancy was established in 2009 under KEEP and have all through been fundraising and doing environmental impact assessment via KWS and NEMA to ensure the project runs successfully.
Access to the conservancy from Nairobi is through the Rondo Retreat Access road on the Kapsabet –Kisumu Highway, before Kaimosi. The conservancy can be accessed by air, its approximately 12 kilometres from the Kakamega airstrip and 15 Kilometres from Kakamega town through Shinyalu road to Kakamega Forest as you head towards the Rondo Retreat Centre in Kakamega forest.