THE Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has dismissed calls for the declaration of poaching as a national disaster.
In a report presented to the committee on Environment and Natural Resources in Parliament on Wednesday, PS Richard Lesiyampe said the declaration would be akin to declaring Kenya’s protected areas insecure and would deal a major blow to the ailing Tourism industry.
He said the national parks and game reserves will no longer be accessible to tourists once poaching is declared a national disaster.
NGOs and some private conservancies have been calling for declaration of poaching as a national disaster.
Instead the PS, who was accompanied by Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu and Kenya Wildlife Service director William Kiprono, asked Parliament to approve the funding of salaries of all KWS uniformed staff including recruitment of additional rangers.
The funding required is Sh3.2 billion every year, according to Lesiyampe, and which should be paid by the Treasury.
He said that KWS rangers were paid lower salaries compared to other forces such as the police and prison warders.
Lesiyampe says despite complaints by NGOs and international organisations that the country is losing a huge number of wildlife, Kenya is doing better compared to other countries in combating poaching.
He casted doubts on the figures being bandied around by NGOs and international organisations as fake.
The PS said the challenges in wildlife security operations were increasing daily as the demand for ivory and rhino horns increase, especially in the East.
“The threat into our protected areas and other wildlife habitats is perpetrated by well armed gangs who have superior firepower,” reads the report.
Lesiyampe said despite the alleged connection between big dealers and small culprits in game reserves, nailing the bigger suspects remains a huge task because suspects nabbed deny their confession once they appear in court.