Bernard Gitau @benagitau
Kenya has taken wildlife conservation to the international arena after submitting proposals to have various animals listed as endangered species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said the country has submitted five proposals to have tortoise, giraffes, elephants, wedge fish and sea cucumbers listed as being seriously at risk of extinction.
According to KWS, the Pancake Tortoise is highly vulnerable to extinction because of its rigid habitat requirements, low populations, very low reproductive potential and over exploitation for the international live animal trade.
They are found in dry savannah in parts of Kenya and Tanzania have been depleted by ongoing legal and illegal international animal trade. The country discontinued export of the tortoise species from the wild in 1981.
At least three breeding farms have been licensed to breed the animals and between 2005 and 2016, 1,701 exports of captive bred live animals were permitted.
Kenya wants Cites to list the tortoise species in Appendix 1, covering species that are most endangered. Another proposal seeks to list all African elephant populations in Appendix I to offer maximum protection.
This is because of ongoing threats posed by the unsustainable demand of ivory and the enforcement problems that current split-listing may create, among others.
Elephant populations have experienced ongoing intense pressure from ivory poachers and criminal syndicates in recent years as evidenced by population declines and repeated high annual levels of poaching and ivory seizure indices.
The government also wants Cites to list giraffes in Appendix II, which subjects international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. Giraffe numbers are declining because of habitat loss and conversion, legal and illegal off take, and trade.
Although listing giraffes in Appendix II will not prohibit their trade, it will put in place monitoring and control measures to ensure over exploitation for trade does not exacerbate the decline of the species. Giraffes are often targeted for bush meat. The government wants Cites to list Wedge Fish and Sea Cucumbers in Appendix II.
The proposals are among 57 to amend the list of species subject to Cites regulations that were submitted by 90 countries for consideration at the next World Wildlife Conference.