World Oceans Day marked
The World Oceans Day was marked on 8 June 2017 with the theme being “Our oceans, our future”.
Oceans cover about two-thirds of the surface of the Earth and are the very foundations of life. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients and regulate climate. They are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income and serve as the backbone of international trade.
Unfortunately, human pressures, including overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, alien species, climate change and ocean acidification are taking a significant toll on the world’s oceans and seas.
This year’s Day was celebrated alongside the first-ever The Ocean Conference at UN Headquarters in New York. The conference aimed to strengthen commitments to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 14 – to conserve and viably use the ocean.
Kenya made a positive move in an effort to tackle plastic pollution when it recently announced a ban on the manufacture and use of plastic bags that litter much of the country. The ban is due to take effect on 28 August. If successful the measure could go a long way in reducing the amount of plastics that up in the Indian Ocean through Kenyan rivers.
East African Wild Life Society’s (EAWLS) Executive Director, Julius Kamau, on 12 June 2017 represented the Society in the launch of consultations that will culminate in the formulation of Kenya’s National Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy.
The launch of the process by Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu, at a breakfast meeting in Nairobi will lead to the creation of the strategy, which is provided for under the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, and aligns with the country’s Vision 2030 development blueprint, as wells as other relevant policy and legal frameworks.
The strategy will also provide a coordinated framework for national wildlife conservation and management, in accordance with the various land tenure systems of public, community and private.
The strategy aims to:
- Set national targets and indicators for viable and sustainable wildlife and habitat conservation over the coming decades;
- Secure wildlife habitats, dispersal areas and corridors and promote evidence-based integrated planning to enhance wildlife conservation across terrestrial, fresh-water and marine environments;
- Stop poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and strengthen the inter-agency collaboration in the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) in dealing with illegal wildlife trade;
- Address strategies to avoid and mitigate human-wildlife conflict
- Establish and implement national long-term wildlife conservation and management funding and monitoring and reporting systems; and
- Strengthen cooperative management of wildlife resources by the national and county governments, communities, individual landowners and other stakeholders.
The strategy formulation process is being spearheaded and coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The process will build on past and present policies, practices, regulations, amendments, and strategies to ensure coherence.
The process will review existing strategies and document best practices nationally and internationally, use focus group discussions, seek technical input from experts and organise key stakeholder consultations and broad public participation.
The second edition of the national census of the endangered Grevy’s zebra, dubbed Great Grevy’s Rally (GGR), took place on January 27 and 28, 2018 in Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu counties. The two-day photographic census is to monitor the status and health of the iconic mammal in Kenya. The count also included reticulated giraffe, another species whose population has declined greatly in the past three decades.
EAWLS team joined other participants at this year’s GGR and were at Ol Pejeta Conservancy where almost all Grevy’s zebra in the country are found. EAWLS wildlife programme profiles Grevy’s zebra as one of the priority species for conservation.
This year’s event brought together 118 teams comprising of conservancy managers, county government officials, community members, local residents, foreign visitors and conservationists who collectively drove over 25,000 kilometres and took over 40,000 photographs.
The event utilizes technology which can uniquely identify each zebra using the stripes in a photograph, much the same way we use fingerprints to identify individual humans. Analysing the photographs gives not just the population size but also age, sex and relative health of each animal. Kenya is home to over 90 per cent of the world’s remaining Grevy’s zebra, and the 2016 census found the population to be at 2,350.