Balala calls on Kenyans to visit parks

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Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has called on Kenyans to take advantage of the reduced park entry fee and visit the country’s National Parks and enjoy Kenya’s rich wildlife heritage, as a way of opening up the economy.

Balala encouraged Kenyans to support the tourism sector in order to grow the economy instead of only waiting for international visitors to promote the sector.

However, the CS reminded all individuals to strictly observe the Ministry of Health directives of wearing face masks, keeping social distance, hand washing and sanitizing frequently to keep the Covid-19 pandemic at bay.

Balala made the remarks when he received 15 motorbikes and 180 motor vehicle tyres Thursday, donated by the United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Headquarters in Nairobi.

While receiving the donation, the CS thanked UNODC for the donation, saying that it will go a long way in boosting operations in the country’s national parks and reserves.

Balala said the donation had come at a time when KWS and indeed the entire nation was grappling with adverse effects of the Covid-9 pandemic.

“The pandemic is crushing global economies. Countries as well as organizations are facing reduced revenues and cash flow challenges, making it difficult to purchase adequate provisions to use for routine operations,” he said.

Citing Kenya Wildlife Service as an example, the CS said KWS generates Sh4.2billion from the national parks and reserves’ gate entry charges per annum, but due to the pandemic, the set target will not be achieved this year.

At the same time, he noted that there was a quantum improvement in wildlife protection in the country, saying that since January 2020, there has not been any single rhino poaching to date and that by May this year, there were 31 rhino ‘babies’.  

The CS also announced that the government was in the process of preparing title deeds for all national parks and reserves in order to protect them from any further human encroachment.

The UNODC Regional Representative, Amado Philip De Andres, stressed the importance of protecting wildlife, noting that about 6,500 species were victims of wildlife crime globally.

On his part, the European Ambassador to Kenya, Simon Mordue promised the Union’s support to KWS saying the two organizations have been partners for long.

He said the post Covid-19 thinking should not be about recovering from where we are, but being able to create a better and sustainable environment.

In his remarks, the Principal Secretary, State Department for Wildlife Prof. Fred Segor applauded the UNODC and the European Union for partnering with Kenya Wildlife Service in protecting wildlife now and for posterity.

Those present included the Director General of KWS, Brig.(Rtd) John Waweru, and the UNODC Regional Coordinator, Container Control Programme and Wildlife Crime Programme, Javier Montano.