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62 elephants starve to death in six months

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62 elephants starve to death in six months


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A family of elephants graze in the Maasai Mara. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala told Parliament that Kenya lost the elephants between August and December 2021.
  • Mr Balala said revenues generated by the KWS dropped from Sh4 billion annually to Sh1 billion following the Covid-19 economic fallout.
  • Parliament last year directed the National Treasury to set aside Sh3.2 billion to cover salaries and operations of KWS staff following the decline in revenue collection from park fees.

Kenya lost 62 elephants to drought in the six months to December even as the Wildlife ministry rushed to build water pans in National Parks to arrest more deaths.

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala told Parliament that Kenya lost the elephants between August and December 2021.

“Through August to December, 62 elephants have died due to drought. We are rushing to build water pans in our parks including Tsavo that is most affected, ”Mr Balala told the National Assembly’s Committee on Finance.

He said the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) lacks sufficient resources to put up water pans in the drought-affected areas.

“We as the Tourism Promotion Fund (TPF) are currently considering a request from the State Department for Wildlife of Sh200 million for the establishment of water pans, drilling of boreholes, dams and provision of water in Tsavo National Park,” Mr Balala said.

Mr Balala said the Fund, meant for tourism promotion activities would intervene and allocate monies for the provision of water services to starving wildlife.

“We are considering the requests given the loss of 62 elephants due to drought within a period of four months,” Mr Balala told the committee.

Mr Balala said revenues generated by the KWS dropped from Sh4 billion annually to Sh1 billion following the Covid-19 economic fallout.

“KWS used to generate Sh4 billion annually. But now they hardly make Sh1 billion. We are struggling to pay their salaries and we are working to achieve our objectives as a sector, ”Mr Balala said.

Parliament last year directed the National Treasury to set aside Sh3.2 billion to cover salaries and operations of KWS staff following the decline in revenue collection from park fees on account of coronavirus.

The Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) reallocated the budget for the State Department for Wildlife to also operationalize the Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund.

The State Department for Wildlife had warned that KWS would collect about 20 percent of the projected Sh4.6 billion annual revenue from park fees due to reduced tourism activities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The prolonged drought has taken a heavy toll on wildlife conservation activities in counties hardest hit by famine.

A total of 12 arid and semi-arid counties are facing starvation due to the severe drought.

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