More than 50 conservation NGOs gathered at the Serena Hotel on the 11th of April to launch their alliance, marking a new era of collaboration on wildlife and biodiversity issues in Kenya’s private sector. The Conservation Alliance of Kenya is the voice of conservation NGOs country-wide, working to advance the protection and management of biodiversity in Kenya.
Individual conservation organisations have for decades contributed heavily to conservation development programs, research into the country’s natural assets and capital, community and livelihoods and fighting wildlife crime. Now home to many of the world’s experts on wildlife, the Conservation Alliance of Kenya aims to collectively be at the forefront of setting the national agenda.
The launch was presided over by the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Professor Judi Wakhungu. The Cabinet Secretary previously officiated the First Conference of Conservation NGOs in Kenya, held in Naivasha in 2015, where the Alliance was birthed. “ The conservation sector faces many challenges in the fight to secure a future for wildlife. The Conservation Alliance of Kenya holds great promise as it builds collaboration to effectively address these challenges in tandem with the government,” Prof Judi said.
To tackle the important issues facing wildlife in Kenya, CAK has structured itself into five fluid thematic areas: Conservation and Development; Community and Livelihoods; Research and Data Sharing; Wildlife Crime; and Advocacy and Lobbying.
The launch takes place at a tumultuous time for Kenya’s wildlife. In recent weeks and months the country has dealt with lions roaming the city, continued pressure on important wildlife areas, cases of trafficking of wildlife products through the country and growing disenchantment with animals by communities. These are all critical issues that the Alliance hopes to assist the government and the public to handle.
Members expressed hope that this will be a turn-around for wildlife. “In the past, the lack of coordination of activities has led to a disjointed approach in confronting major issues; this has reduced the conservation fraternity’s ability to tackle the declining state of wildlife. With the Alliance we have a real chance,” said an emphatic Dr. Winnie Kiiru of Stop Ivory.
As an umbrella body, CAK will provide a vital link between government, communities, counties, the scientific community and the international world. Representing over 90% of the
Conservation NGOs in the country, the Alliance will be working closely with different groups to ensure conservation of Kenya’s natural heritage is made a priority as decisions are taken.
“Especially with regards to development projects, we as conservationists have for too long been reactive to impending development, having only been allowed into the process at a late stage. We hope that we can use CAK as a vehicle to proactively safeguard Kenya’s rich heritage,” said Dr. Mordecai Ogada, head of the Conservation Solutions Africa and Conservation and Development group leader.
The Chair of the Alliance, Mr. Steve Itela, underscored the need to route the country towards smart and sustainable development. He said, “This is truly a great day for wildlife. Together as CAK, we will now work to help Kenya achieve a great GDP while we nurture/without losing our forestry, water towers, wildlife, wetlands, and/or marine resources. ”
Mr. Steve Itela
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About the Conservation Alliance of Kenya
The CAK is an umbrella body with a membership of over 50 conservation NGOs collectively working to advance the protection and management of biodiversity in Kenya. By putting their expertise into resolving matters to do with land use, national wildlife security, promoting strategic conservation with wise development and representing the country at conventions the Alliance aims to collectively be at the forefront of setting the national agenda in collaboration with the government of Kenya. Thematic areas the Alliance covers include: Conservation and Development, Research and Data Sharing, Wildlife Crime and Communities and Livelihoods.
Photo Credits: CAK/Kamweti Mutu