Leaders fault clauses in Wildlife Bill
By Renson Mnyamwezi
Leaders in Taita-Taveta County have proposed a number of amendments they want incorporated in the proposed Wildlife Bill before it becomes law.
Among the issues the leaders want addressed include imprecise benefits sharing formula as outlined by schedule 12 of the Bill and creation of provisional conservation areas.
"We read the proposed Bill and appreciate that it is a progressive document of the current Act but it has some deficiencies that need to be addressed before it is passed," said Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu during a consultative meeting on the Bill in Wundanyi town.
The leaders, who also included over 30 councillors from Taita-Taveta County, Voi Municipal and Taveta town councils, were also concerned about the benchmarks, process and bureaucracy involved in compensation as outlined by the Bill, incentives for the creation of conservancies and unrealistic controls for the same.
At the same time, the leaders faulted the proposed wildlife compensation committee as proposed in the draft claiming communities would be under-represented.
The Bill proposes that out of seven members of the compensation committee, the county government would be represented by only two representatives while the rest would be government officials, an issue the leaders they noted was unjustified.
Poison or snares
Taita-Taveta County Council chairman Aresmus Mwarabu said some of the provisions of the Bill attempt to regulate the creation of private conservancies by individuals or groups.
The Bill according to Mwatate ward civil leader is faulty as it also gives Kenya Wildlife Service immense powers to take over poorly managed conservancies.
"It is not clear what criteria will be used to decide what ecosystems are endangered. The Bill has grey areas, which needed to be addressed first before it is brought to Parliament for debate and approval," added Mwarabu. One of the provisions of the Bill is that it allows landowners to kill animals as long as they do not use poison or snares.
This, the leaders said, could lead to the killing of endangered wildlife species including elephants, rhinos and wild dogs and need to be fine-tuned to suit the interests of communities especially those bordering national parks.
"The Bill has disregarded interests of communities endowed with wildlife. We want the county government to be fully involved in decision-making. This will enable devolved governments collect fees from parks," said the leaders.
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