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At an event graced by Kenya’s first lady Margaret Kenyatta, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) earlier this week launched a Kenyan office which is fully registered as a local NGO. WWF has been operating in Kenya since 1962 but as an outpost of WWF International. Other than South Africa, Kenya is the only other African country to become a national office for WWF.

Conceived in 1961, WWF is a global Non-Governmental Organization for conservation and one of the biggest in the world. WWF has offices in over 100 countries in 5 continents and has had more than 13,000 projects over the 50 years of existence. It was started with a main focus on wildlife conservation but have since diversified into marine resources management, disappearing forests conservation, scarce water resources conservation and climate and energy work among others.

As it is, WWF has met quite some milestones since it started operations in Kenya, starting right off in 1962 when it actively started conservation of the Black Rhino. Here are some more achievements:

  • In the 70s, WWF purchased and donated land around Lake Nakuru to pave way for expansion of Lake Nakuru National Park to the current size of 188 square km.
  • When in 1997 some 17 rhinos were relocated from Solio ranch to Lake Nakuru National Park, WWF assisted in setting up that as the first rhino sanctuary.
  • At the coast where 43 forests in Kilifi and Kwale are gazetted as national monuments, WWF funded the National museums of Kenya to set up the Coastal Forest Conservation Unit in the 90s.
  • WWF worked to restore the Kwale forest landscape as well as the Mau forest complex whose importance in Kenya’s weather patterns cannot be ignored or understated. This was in the 2000s.
  • In recognition of wildlife tracking as a most important component of conservation, and in support of rhino conservation works, WWF Kenya provided 1,000 Microchips and five scanners to Kenya Wildlife Service.

Those are just a few highlights of the WWF footprints in the country. Now that is fully registered as a local NGO, what does this mean for Kenya? A significant benefit I feel will be localization of operations and a stronger voice in policy making especially considering that WWF global has plans to relocate some functions to regional hubs. This in my opinion will clearly make it easier for WWF to better influence sustainability and environmental affairs in the country.

Also, the new Chief Justice David Maraga was present at the launch and I pray that this means a commitment by the judiciary to push stiffer punishments for wildlife criminals. Poaching of late has been going on almost unabated especially in the recent years and we’re losing thousands of wildlife to it. A strong judiciary will go a long way in putting people behind it behind bars, or giving stiffer fines and punishments to deter them.

At the launch, the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta launched a 5 year strategic plan that will focus on initiatives that target areas of high and unique biodiversity.

“The strategic plan is informed by Kenya’s rich natural assets that are vital for our people’s livelihoods and economic development. They provide critical opportunities for Kenya’s population for more than 44 million people. To ensure a development pathway that is sustainable and resilient, WWF – Kenya endeavors to promote sound natural resources management strategies and conducive policy frameworks,” said WWF -Kenya Board chairman Issac Awuondo.

We look forward to stronger conservation efforts with the setting up of this office.

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