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Government launches new National Elephant Conservation Action plan

World Wildlife Day celebrations strengthen links between tourism and conservation

Earlier this month, on the 3rd of March, Kenya celebrated World Wildlife Day with what has become an annual celebration. Since 2021, this country has used this day – earmarked as an international celebration of wild things – to hold an elephant naming festival. The festival, in turn, provides a platform for the promotion of wildlife.

This year the Magical Kenya Tempo naming festival was held in Amboseli, an area of Kenya that has been as dramatically impacted by drought conditions as Tsavo has. This year, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife & Heritage, Peninah Malonza used the platform to discuss the importance of improving tourism revenue.

Kenya’s reputation as a stronghold for wildlife, Malonza explained, allows the country huge opportunities for revenue generation. Touro-dollars bring in obvious and impactful revenue that can be then applied to the benefit of human communities and wildlife alike.

She used the Magical Kenya Tembo naming festival as an example. The festival is a creation of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) and it was initially championed as an attempt to prove the link between tourism and conservation. In its first year, 16.5 million shillings were raised through the festival. Of which, 6 million kshs were put aside for the development of community and conservation projects.

Speakers at the festival also took the time to float suggestions of a new, lower low-season ticket for the KWS managed national parks in Kenya. This plan was posited as a plan that will, and suggests at a strong desire to, boost tourism revenue.

A community member interviewed at the festival by a journalist from the Star suggests as to the reason why. An elder from the Enkongunarok village stated that we have “c[o]me to realise the benefits [tourism] has on our people who are grappling with the ongoing drought.” He went on to say that “[t]oday, we actually see the wild just the same as our cattle”.

Magical Kenya Tembo naming festival used as a launching pad for new National Elephant Management plan

Many of our regular readers will know that, here in Kenya, we have the huge pleasure of bearing witness to gradual elephant population growth.

Poaching and the international thirst for ivory brought Kenya’s elephant population down from 170,000 in the early 1970s to around 16,000 between 1979 and 1989.

So deplorable a loss this was, and so limited was the observable recovery since the turn of the millennium, that the Kenyan government established an Elephant Conservation & Management plan in 2012. Between 2012 and 2021, Kenya’s nation-wide response to the plight of its African elephant was informed by a strategic framework.

In 2021’s national census, the African savannah elephant population of Kenya was 36,280.

The 2012 – 2021 Elephant Conservation and Management plan has had such an obvious impact on the robustness of this country’s elephant population that its ending, in 2021, was evidently going to bring about questions. Foremost amongst those questions, for us, was when we would get another national management plan.

At the Magical Kenya Tembo naming festival, the wait for this new plan was brought to an end. CS Peninah Malonza, who has given the new National Elephant Conservation Action Plan a foreword, launched this much-awaited document.

It is a 110 page framework that draws on community-involved research, wide-reaching stakeholder involvement, expertise from elephant conservation NGOs and the resources of the KWS. This new National Elephant Action Plan aims to inform policy and practice until 2032.

We will spend a few of our forthcoming articles in breaking down this document into more digestible articles. For now, we can rest assured that the future for elephant conservation in Kenya is, once again, informed by a detailed structural plan.

If you want to read the new National Elephant Conservation Action plan document in full, click on the link below.

National Elephant Action Plan

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