WILDLIFE IS KENYA'S GREATEST ASSET ...
Wildlife has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Watching wild animals in their natural, vast savannah surroundings, brings the beauty of nature to the fore – a stunning gift which we must preserve – and, perhaps, the best way to do this, is to educate our visitors and introduce them to this powerful and enchanting magic.
Hunting took a severe toll on Kenya’s wildlife, but it was not by the local communities who mainly killed for food. It was the onset of World War II that took the wildlife from roaming in moderate security to abject danger. The horrendous wildlife massacre followed.
During World War II, hunting reached its peak. Prisoners had to be fed and, consequently, the diet then necessitated the slaughter of eland, impala, gazelles and zebra, to mention a few. At the end of the War, the wealthy European visitors came to Kenya to pursue the needless sport of hunting … to acquire trophies that would, eventually, only gather dust. These hunters and local traders launched the wildlife towards a rapidly approaching disastrous extinction.
Fortunately, at the end of the War, National Parks were introduced … but with obvious opposition from hunters and farmers alike. The first National Park in Kenya was inaugurated in 1946. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first Head of State, said:
‘The natural resources of this country – its wildlife which offers such an attraction to visitors from all
over the world, the beautiful places in which these animals live, the mighty forests which guard the
water catchment areas so vital to the survival of man and beast – are a priceless heritage for the
Twelve National Parks and Reserves were in place by Kenya’s Independence in 1963, protecting more than 10% of Kenya’s animals and fauna from extinction. More Parks and Reserves followed within a short space of time.
Kenya’s preservation of its wildlife has now been complimented by the ease and speed of travel, creating expanding tourism … and with tourism comes important funds to support the wildlife … and the people of Kenya.
Mombasa, from which I operate, is the most sophisticated town along the length of the East Kenyan coast. It is Kenya’s second-largest city, with a large port and an international airport. It was an important centre for the trade of gold, ivory and spices in its pre-colonial period. It may even have once been a place for the exporting of slaves. Mombasa certainly struggled with numerous foreign invaders, all of whom have left a lasting mark on the city.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was formed in 1990 to encompass the role of local people in the management of Kenya’s wildlife. Its Mission is ‘to save the last great species and places on earth for humanity’. The wildlife managed by KWS forms the backbone of Kenya’s tourism industry and it has still to work hard to combat the ongoing wildlife crime. Visit and support us on: www.kws.org.