Decades of uncontrolled poaching, extending human settlements, global warming and environmental changes have negatively affected the global wildlife population – and Kenya is no exception, with African savanna elephants being especially hit hard, with their numbers plunging by no less than 60% during the last 50 years.

Kenya on May 7, 2021 dispatched its first ever National Wildlife Census covering both land and Aquatic natural life. The two-month practice is fully funded by the Government of Kenya and will be executed by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya Wildlife Service and the newly created Wildlife Research &Training Institute.

The ambitious exercise, covers major species in more than 50 of Kenya’s national parks and reserves as well as private and community conservancies, and includes marine life. A significant part of the existing data on the country’s wildlife population are gathered individually by local advocacy groups or international conservationists, contributing to a scattershot approach to wildlife protection.

The registration will be completed in Kenya’s Conservation regions and key wildlife rich counties. Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala presided over the census official launch at Shimba Hills National Reserve in Kwale County. Speaking during the Launch Hon. Balala said, “The information generated during the census will support implementation of Government of Kenya conservation and tourism policies and support tools for adaptive management.” It will also be used in addressing challenges facing wildlife in the country.

The Cabinet Secretary said the number and distribution of rare and threatened species listed in Schedule Six of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 require regular monitoring using standard methods. Hon Balala noted that Kenya has never undertaken a one-off national survey to establish a baseline of the wildlife status and distribution in the country. “It is therefore important to undertake this National Survey to establish a baseline data on wildlife population status and distribution for future use to understand wildlife population trends and shifts in their distribution,” he said.

Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru assured that the KWS and Wildlife Research & Training Institute teams undertaking the census are professional and up to the task, and promised that the exercise will be undertaken with the highest level of professionalism. Brigadier (Rtd) Waweru further stated that the resources allocated by the National Government through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife will be used prudently, following relevant laws and regulations.

The Acting Director of Wildlife Research & Training Institute Dr. Patrick Omondi said the census will follow standard methods to count different species of Terrestrial and Aquatic wildlife.

The Launch was attended by the Principals Secretaries of State Departments of Wildlife and Tourism Prof. Fred Segor and Safina Kweke respectively. The acting chairpersons of KWS Board of Trustees and Wildlife Research & Training Institute Ms. Betty Maitoyo, and Dr. Winnie Kiiru respectively also graced the occasion.