Capital FM (Nairobi)

11 April 2014

Kenya: Three Month Probe At KWS After Suspensions

Nairobi — The government has set up an inter-ministerial committee to scrutinise operations at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for the next three months.

Environment and Natural Resources Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe says the team which comprises officials from the National Treasury, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and KWS will identify challenges in the wildlife conservation agency and recommend remedial action.

"It has become necessary for the government to get involved in the affairs of the KWS, especially on how it is run and managed. That is why we have instituted an investigation to understand the reasons why KWS does not have precise strategies to empower officers who are manning our national parks and reserves to ensure they are properly equipped to end the menace of poaching," the PS noted.

"As a government, we have vowed to ensure that poachers will not carry out their activities in our parks, we will use all means including monitoring the parks from the air, we will use our own officers and some of us are ready to spill our blood to ensure that they will never repeat killing our wildlife heritage."

This comes after the ministry announced that it had suspended six senior officers to pave way for investigations into the operations of the KWS.

William Waweru (Deputy Director Finance and Administration), Julius Kimani (Deputy Director Security), Tom Sipul (Deputy Director Corporate Services), Wesley Isanda (Head of Finance) and Christopher Oludhe (Head of Procurement) are among the officers who were affected by the decision which was arrived at following consultations between the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the KWS management.

"The poaching and trafficking in wildlife are trans-national problems that have increased in sophistication and scope, we want to understand why our efforts are not working and this investigation might give us insight to it," Lesiyampe said.

"We want to understand why our officers on the ground have not received modern equipment such as night vision goggles, modern firearms and vehicles which will assist them in dealing with poaching. I also want to assure KWS staff that we have confidence and trust in them and that they should continue with their jobs, because there won't be any more changes."

The changes come after KWS endured weeks of bashing from conservationists for failing to end runaway poaching.

Acting KWS director William Kiprono last month downplayed what seemed to be an upsurge in poaching of elephant and rhino as he resisted calls from wildlife activists to declare the poaching of the two endangered species a national disaster.

He reported that 51 elephants and 11 rhinos had been killed this year alone with a notable increase in rhino poaching compared to elephants. KWS says Kenya lost 59 rhinos and 302 elephants in 2013 compared to 2012 in which 384 elephants and 30 rhinos were killed for their horn.

At least 249 suspects had been prosecuted for wildlife offences but most of them were set free after paying "minor fines."

Despite the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act that imposed heavier fines on wildlife crimes, poaching of elephants and rhinos has not stopped.

Lesiyampe added that the government had formed an anti-poaching committee which will look into all aspects of poaching and recommend actions that must be followed and executed to deal with the poaching menace. NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 11- The government has set up an inter-ministerial committee to scrutinise operations at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for the next three months.

Environment and Natural Resources Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe says the team which comprises officials from the National Treasury, Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and KWS will identify challenges in the wildlife conservation agency and recommend remedial action.

"It has become necessary for the government to get involved in the affairs of the KWS, especially on how it is run and managed. That is why we have instituted an investigation to understand the reasons why KWS does not have precise strategies to empower officers who are manning our national parks and reserves to ensure they are properly equipped to end the menace of poaching," the PS noted.

"As a government, we have vowed to ensure that poachers will not carry out their activities in our parks, we will use all means including monitoring the parks from the air, we will use our own officers and some of us are ready to spill our blood to ensure that they will never repeat killing our wildlife heritage."

This comes after the Ministry announced that it had suspended six senior officers to pave way for investigations into the operations of the KWS.

William Waweru (Deputy Director Finance and Administration), Julius Kimani (Deputy Director Security), Tom Sipul (Deputy Director Corporate Services), Wesley Isanda (Head of Finance) and Christopher Oludhe (Head of Procurement) are among the officers who are affected by the decision which was arrived at following consultations between the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the KWS management.

"The poaching and trafficking in wildlife are trans-national problems that have increased in sophistication and scope, we want to understand why we our efforts are not working and this investigation might give us insight to it," Lesiyampe said as the targeted purge at the state corporation.

"We want to understand why our officers on the ground have not received modern equipment such as night vision goggles, modern firearms and vehicles which will assist them in dealing with poaching. I also want to assure KWS staff that we have confidence and trust in them and that they should continue with their jobs, because there won't be any more changes."

The changes come after KWS endured weeks of bashing from conservationists for failing to end runaway poaching.

Acting KWS director William Kiprono last month downplayed what seemed to be an upsurge in poaching of elephant and rhino as he resisted calls from wildlife activists to declare the poaching of the two endangered species a national disaster.

He reported that 51 elephants and 11 rhinos had been killed this year alone with a notable increase in rhino poaching compared to elephants. KWS says Kenya lost 59 rhinos and 302 elephants in 2013 compared to 2012 in which 384 elephants and 30 rhinos were killed for their horn.

At least 249 suspects had been prosecuted for wildlife offences but most of them were set free after paying "minor fines."

Despite the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act that imposed heavier fines on wildlife crimes, poaching of elephants and rhinos has not stopped.

Lesiyampe added that the government had formed an anti-poaching committee which will look into all aspects of poaching and recommend actions that must be followed and executed to deal with the poaching menace.

The PS announced plans to revamp the intelligence unit of KWS in a bid to address the agency's shortcomings in winning the war against poaching.

"Intelligence is very, very critical and crucial it is the ingredient of really solving some of the problems we are facing today, and therefore we intend to have a senior officer from the NIS to come and provide advice on how to revamp and restructure the intelligence service of the KWS to help us in combating poaching," said Lesiyampe, who is a former official, with the wildlife management agency.

The Kenya Wildlife Service will also recruit 600 new rangers from Monday.

The PS announced plans to revamp the intelligence unit of KWS in a bid to address the agency's shortcomings in winning the war against poaching.

"Intelligence is very, very critical and crucial it is the ingredient of really solving some of the problems we are facing today, and therefore we intend to have a senior officer from the NIS to come and provide advice on how to revamp and restructure the intelligence service of the KWS to help us in combating poaching," said Lesiyampe, who is a former official with the wildlife management agency.

Some 600 rangers will also be recruited at KWS from Monday.

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