Kenya has a rich wildlife resource which is the main tourism product, a key economic pillar of vision 2030. However, the country is not receiving maximum benefits from the wildlife resource due to inadequate knowledge on the status and distribution of the country’s wildlife populations as censuses are ecosystem and species based with no comprehensive nationally coordinated wildlife census undertaken
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WCMA) - 2013 requires the Cabinet Secretary to submit and report biannually to the National Assembly a National Wildlife Conservation Status Report as well as provide the status of wildlife monitoring every five years. The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife (MoT&W), n Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) undertook the national wildlife census for a period of 3 months (April-July 2021). The specific objective of the national census was to establish a National baseline of wildlife species. The census targeted terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The census enumerated land and water mammals, key birds and endangered primates. This was achieved through total aerial counts, sample aerial counts, ground counts, individual identification and indirect methods such as dung counts and use of camera traps and desktop review of previous census. The census involved the use of aircrafts (fixed-winged and helicopters), boats, vehicles, dictaphones, cameras, camera traps and used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to record and analyse observations.
The census was officially launched by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala on the 6th May 2021 at Shimba Hills National Reserve. A total of 100 personnel were involved in various census sites and were drawn from Government Agencies at National and County levels, conservation partners, private and community conservancies, local communities among other stakeholders. The census covered over 343,380km2 (total aerial = 186,296km2 and sample aerial = 157,084km2 ). This represents 59% of Kenya’s land mass. A total of 1158.23 hours was flown (940.80 hours and 217.43 hours for total and sample aerial censuses respectively)