The Kenya Wildlife Service will be split into three entities as part of reforms to enhance conservation.
The Wildlife Bill, which awaits debate in Parliament, proposes the separation of policy formulation, regulatory functions and management of Kenya’s flora and fauna.
The policy formulation wing, KWS director Julius Kipng’etich said, would remain at the Ministry of Wildlife while the Kenya Wildlife Regulatory Authority will set standards for both State-run KWS and other private conservancies.
The third entity is KWS, which will manage national parks, carry out research and law enforcement.
“As presently constituted, all these functions are vested in KWS,” said Mr Kipng’etich.
The law will also change to introduce heavier penalties for poaching by classifying it as an economic crime.
“The law we have at the moment was crafted in 1975 when Sh2,000 was a lot of money. We now want to start looking at wildlife crimes as economic crimes,” he said.
The director was addressing the press to give a post-mortem of the recently concluded 15th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Conference of Parties (Cites) held in Doha, Qatar.
The meeting that took place from March 13 to 25 ended with Kenya successfully marshalling support to block attempts by Tanzania and Zambia to sell ivory stockpiles and dilute protection for the African elephant.
But Mr Kipng’etich played down fears that Kenya’s difference of opinion on the matter with her neighbour would adversely affect cross-border conservation efforts.
Mr Patrick Omondi, KWS Senior Assistant Director and Head of Species and Conservation Management, said the ban on ivory trading for nine years was necessary to allow African states to grow their elephant populations.
Mr Kipng’etich said KWS would also use the nine-year moratorium to modernise its security apparatus.
The KWS Endowment Fund, set to be launched in July this year, targets to raise Sh2 billion ($30 million) in the medium term and Sh7.5 billion over 10 years.
The fund aims to sustain KWS through challenges of climate change, drought, changing land use, election chaos and high population growth, said KWS head of resource mobilisation Edwin Wanyonyi.
The fund is also meant to cushion wildlife conservation from over-reliance on volatile tourism trends.