The proposal for consumptive wildlife utilization is a deadly gamble for Kenya. Conservation in Kenya has historically faced policy and governance failures that have led to dramatic loss of wildlife and wildlife habitats over the years. This has not changed. What makes us think we are ready to manage consumptive utilization. Our wildlife is a national heritage. It has value. But not everything that has value, should have a direct price. We don’t want our wildlife as food. Neither do we want people to pay us to kill our wildlife.
We should therefore not respond to the call for public participation by the task force on consumptive utilisation. Here is why! They are asking us to put a price on our heritage. Secondly the process is not participation. It is passive engagement because those being engaged have no context and information on what has informed the consideration for consumptive wildlife utilization.
That aside, the framework on which consumptive utilization is being considered has not been made open. If it is PES, then we may ask questions like – what are the ecosystem services provided by wildlife that can be taken to the market without direct consumption and depletion of the resource? But no, there is no disclosure of framework either.
There is speculation that the thought is anchored on creating more benefits from wildlife. If that be the case, then we should start by equitably sharing what we currently generate from wildlife tourism and have progressive policies that promote sustainable tourism. We may just realize that our problem is not size of benefits from wildlife tourism, but its distribution. So again the problem is policy and governance.
There is no feasibility study on the country’s ability, potential and readiness for consumptive utilization. We don’t know the risks. Yet we are asking who should manage and which wildlife should be involved. Manage what?
So every view given by Kenyans in this process is an aspiration that cannot be used to make objective decisions. That is why I will not respond to the call. Responding to the questionnaire will give legitimacy to a flawed process.