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world’s famous Maasai Mara National Reserve | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Two cheetahs, Zebras and a giraffe are seen at the world’s famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. More than 600 species of both birds and wildlife are found here including elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe, hyena and vulture. XINHUA PHOTO: PAN SIWEI

Tourism ministry launching new strategies to protect Kenya wildlife

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s tourism ministry on Tuesday evening launched a National Wildlife Strategy to boost the country’s conservation efforts.

Deputy President William Ruto told journalists in Nairobi that wildlife and habitats face threats from climate change, increasing human population, pollution and poaching.

"The strategy provides a roadmap to guide the protection and conservation of wildlife resources," Ruto said.

He said the strategy also outlines a vision for wildlife conservation as part of a strong environmental foundation for achieving Kenya’s sustainable development agenda.

The deputy president noted that Kenya’s rich biodiversity is the backbone of the country’s tourism industry.

According to the senior official, the country’s iconic wildlife and the diverse conservation areas are among the countries’ most valuable assets.

He observed that besides producing direct economic benefits, the wildlife habitats and conservation areas including terrestrial and marine national parks and reserves, sanctuaries and conservation are also vital for water catchment, carbon sequestration, fresh air and recreation.

Ruto said that at the coastal region, rapid land use changes are affecting coral reefs, mangroves and the long-term ecology of the area.

"Similarly, our lakes are threatened by eutrophication, invasive species and over exploitation of fish stocks," he said.

Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife Ministry, said the strategy will transform wildlife conservation to ensure it contributes to the country’s economic growth.

Balala noted that Kenya has a unique diversity of ecosystems ranging from mountains, forests and rangelands.

"Each of these ecosystems supports a diverse array of animal and plant species, some endemic to Kenya and a range of services essential to our prosperity and wellbeing as individuals, communities, and a country," he said.

The CS said that 8 percent of the country’s landmass is officially protected wildlife habitat through a network of national parks, national reserves, forest reserves and sanctuaries.

He revealed that the formal protected area is complimented by a further 160 conservancies ensuring an additional 11 percent of Kenya is actively managed for wildlife conservation.

Balala said that despite these efforts in conservation, there are still large gaps in conservation area systems especially in the marine and coastal systems, urban and freshwater ecosystems where as much as 80 percent of Kenya’s fragile freshwater and inland aquatic ecosystems resources remain unprotected.

He noted that increasingly, wildlife conservation will depend on weaving together the diverse array of habitats and conservation models to create a dynamic and resilient tapestry of interconnected ecosystems in support of biodiversity and prosperity.

Margaret Mwakima, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Wildlife, said the status and trends of all Kenya’s ecosystems shows a general degrading and declining status of biodiversity.

Mwakima said that environmental degradation is adversely affecting the livelihoods of millions of people and the country’s economy.

"This calls for urgent remedial intervention to stop the decline," she said, noting that poaching and uncontrolled use of natural resources are key contributors to the decline of biodiversity and wildlife.

She said that initiatives such as judicial reforms and engagement of communities living near wildlife have helped to reduce the incidence of poaching.


Kenya planning land use policy to address
food security and environmental protection

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Tuesday launched the national land use policy to help address food security and environmental protection.

Deputy President William Ruto said the document will also address other related concerns such as human settlements, climate change and economic pursuits within the context of social, economic, political and other related realities.

"However, to achieve balanced economic development, it will take more than the legislative framework that has been put in place, but rather a change of attitude and approach," Ruto said during the launch of the blueprint in Nairobi.

He said the ability to manage diverse, competing and conflicting claims while upholding livelihoods and promoting sustainability is critical for development.

"In order to adequately address matters connected with land, the policy is a product of wide, comprehensive, patient, diligent and inclusive deliberations and consultations," Ruto said and emphasized that consultation and participation are not mere formalities or meaningless rituals.

The overall goal of the policy, which was drafted in 2016, aims at providing legal mechanisms for utilization of land as the absence of a clearly defined land use policy in the country since independence resulted in a disorganized approach in managing the different land use practices and different responses.

Farida Koroney, the Cabinet Secretary for Lands, said utilization of land by the citizenry is influenced by competing interests which results in conflicts.

"The rapid increase in population and the high rates of urbanization continues to exert pressure on the scarce land resources in different parts of the country.

"This has contributed to intense competition between different land uses, resulting in various challenges related to land use," Karoney said.



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