History of EAWLS
The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) came into being in 1961 through a merger of the Kenya and Tanzania Wildlife Societies (both formed in 1956) and wildlife enthusiasts from Uganda. EAWLS was originally registered as a Society and later as a non–governmental organization (NGO) in Kenya under the NGO Act of 1990.
The Society in the 50s
1956-The Kenya and Tanzania Wildlife Societies are formed
The Society in the 60s
1961-EAWLS was founded through a merger of the Kenya and Tanzania Wildlife Societies (both were formed in 1956) and wildlife enthusiasts from Uganda.
1964-EAWLS launches a programme that offers financial support to game departments in Kenya (1964), Tanzania (1965) and Uganda (1966) this included, providing anti-poaching equipment, erecting fences around national parks, assisting with animal rescue, purchasing aircrafts and providing education opportunities.
1965-EAWLS initiates an education programme to support wildlife conservation research work, including studies that focused on well-known species, such as Cheetah, Hyena, Elephant and Rhino, as well as lesser known species, such as threatened Tana River Mangabay and Red Colobus monkeys, and Sable and Roan antelope.
The Society in the 70s
1970-With the support of the EAWLS, the critically endangered Roan Antelope are translocated to Ruma National Park as the population is estimated at just 50 individuals. The attention given to this decline prompts the Wildlife Department to prepare a strategy for Roan Antelope survival.
The Society in the 80s
1982-Michael Werikhe, a well-known conservationist in East Africa, walks alone from Mombasa to Nairobi to raise awareness about the plight of the Black Rhino. The EAWLS begins to sponsor his pursuits and they work together to promote rhino conservation. They raise funds to support rhino ecology studies and help establish the first rhino sanctuary initiatives. Werikhe walks across five countries in Europe as well as the US, earning him the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.
1989- EAWLS advocates for a quasi-government institution to run the National Parks and Reserves in Kenya. This leads to the establishment of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to replace the previous and ineffective manager, Wildlife Conservation and Management Department (WCMD)
The Society in the 90s
1995- EAWLS’s mandate broadens beyond just wildlife research and conservation to include, ‘the sustainable utilisation of the environment and natural resources.’ EAWLS also begins to include public education, advocacy, stakeholders’ participation and capacity building as part of its approach.
1995- Forest conservation groups request the Society to host the secretariat of the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG). This model informed the development of other similar working groups hosted by the Society, including the Kenya Wetlands Forum (KWF) and the Kenya Wildlife Conservation Forum (KWCF) at national level. At the regional level this model was instrumental in the formation of the Tanzania Forests Working Group (TFWG) and Uganda Forests Working Group (UFWG).
The Society in the Millennium
2001-EAWLS and the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) launch an advocacy campaign to halt the large-scale subdivision of 67,000 hectares of important protected forests in Mt. Kenya and the Mau Complex Forests. The campaign sees the end of large-scale deforestation in Kenya, and part of the excised land near Mt. Kenya has restored to forestland.
2004- Ali Kaka, the then Executive Director of EAWLS, receives the prestigious National Geographic Society’s Howard Buffet Award for “Leadership in African Conservation.”
2008- As a result of EAWLS, UNEP and Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) advocacy campaign, the Prime Minister initiates a Task Force to address the destruction of the Mau Complex Forest. EAWLS’ Chairman, Professor Fredrick Owino chairs the Task Force and the Societies’ current Executive Director, Michael Gachanja is appointed as a member.
2009- The government endorses the recommendation of the Mau Task Force and forms an interim committee to oversee its implementation. The Society’s Chairman and the director are appointed as technical advisors to this committee which is later transformed into the Water Tower Agency, aimed at enhancing the coordination of Kenya’s most important forested water catchments.
2010- The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) refuses to grant a license for the construction of a highway through the environmentally sensitive Aberdare National Park following objections by EAWLS that the construction could have led to habitat fragmentation and increased pressure to the park with an effect on biodiversity conservation, tourism and water.
2010- Government puts on hold proposal by the Lake Basin Development Authority to build a dam inside the South Nandi forest that would have led to the clearing of 1,185 ha of closed canopy rainforest, significantly drain the Yala Swamp, a wetland of international importance and alter local micro climate, adversely affect farming, and led to biodiversity loss and habitat degradation. Advocacy campaign to have the project stopped was spearheaded by EAWLS.
2010- The high court reverses a legal notice published by the Tourism and Wildlife Minister in 2005 that downgraded the Amboseli National Park to a National Reserve. The litigation was spearheaded by EAWLS.
2011- The National Environment Management Association (NEMA) rejects the large-scale clearance of Dakatcha woodlands and Tana Delta – a proposed total of 110,000 hectares for jatropha plantations – based on information from EAWLS and Nature Kenya that these proposed initiatives were not economically or ecologically viable and that they would undermine local land use planning efforts.
2012- The Government of Tanzania drops its plan to build a highway through Serengeti National Park, which could have undermined conservation efforts and increased pressure in the park, following increased pressure by conservationists, including EAWLS.
2013- A High Court ruling spearheaded by the EAWLS sees the stopping of large-scale development initiated by the Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) that was not guided by land use plans and which was a threat to livelihood of fishermen, pastoralists and local farmers.
2013- The National Environment Tribunal (NET) gives a stop order for the construction of a 4 kilometre highway in the Nairobi National Park. An advocacy campaign by EAWLS and key partners resulted in the stop order.
2014- The EAWLS and the Mara Conservation Fund with the support of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya provided anti-poaching equipment to community wildlife conservancies.