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KWS advises farmers to rear chameleons

By JOSEPH MUCHIRI

Embu County

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has called on farmers to consider commercial rearing of chameleons.

KWS District Warden in charge of Embu and Kirinyaga counties Cornelius Muoka said chameleon farming was a lucrative venture and was not demanding.

Speaking to The Standard in his office yesterday, Mr Muoka explained that chameleon rearing requires a cool climate and pointed out that Embu and Kirinyaga have favourable climate.

He said all one requires is to apply for a permit at the nearest KWS office or station indicating how they plan to carry out the venture.

Muoka added that the permit is sent to Nairobi and then KWS officers visit the farmer and survey whether he has the right space and facilities to rear the chameleons before the Chief Licensing Officer issues the permit.

"Chameleon farming does not require a lot of space. One only needs to get a net to fence the area where to rear them and invent ways to attract flies and other insects, which chameleon feed on," he said.

KWS officers monitor the progress of the chameleons and educate the farmers on how to best tend for them. He advised farmers to diversify from traditionally keeping livestock to rearing chameleons.

"One can also keep chameleons as pets in their home and even sell offspring to other pet lovers," he said.

The KWS officer assured of ready international market like Japan and Germany, but said farmers who are just starting can sell to middlemen.

"There is a chameleon farmer in Kithimu in Embu County and a self help group engaged in the same in Kirinyaga County and they are making good money," he said.

Muoka, however, called on farmers who have a ready market not to monopolise it but to share it with new farmers to encourage commercial farming of chameleons.

He revealed that his office in conjunction with other government departments and agencies have been advocating for chameleon farming and put in place management plans for the same. "There is a senior warden who moves around teaching people how to rear chameleons, guinea fowls, ostriches, crocodiles and other wild animals," he said.