Kenyans United Against Poaching (KUAPO Trust) along with several other organisations and Kenyans are demanding that an inquisition be held into the events that led to the killing of Mohawk. We believe that his death is symptomatic of the systemic issues within the Kenya Wildlife Service specifically around human-wildlife conflict and problem animal control. Furthermore, we believe that concerted efforts need to be made to secure the broader Nairobi National Park ecosystem for the safety of both our wildlife and our human population.

We share the outrage of Kenya and world citizens at the senseless killing of Mohawk as well as the avoidable injury to the motorcyclist. Mohawk’s death must not be in vain. We must learn from this experience and ensure that such a situation is not repeated again. For this a proper understanding of the events is required to reform policy and take concrete actions. This should also involve joint dialogue with all stakeholders. We want to help make this change. We can help make this change.

For more details, please read our full joint statement of demand to the CS, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the DG, Kenya Wildlife Service. (…/demand-for-inquisition-…)

KUAPO, Eseriani Wildlife Association, Ulinzi Africa Foundation, Walk With Rangers, Lights For Life,Jane Goodall Institute – Roots & Shoots Kenya, Safari Exposure Tours Ltd, A Walk for Wildlife, Athi Kapiti Wildlife Conservancies, Lion Entry Deterrent Systems

Artwork by Ken Cunningham





KUAPO Strongly Believes Fencing of National Parks & Reserves Will Cause a Broad Range of Negative Ecological, Social & Economic Effects

We, members of the Kenya United Against Poaching Trust, strongly believe that complete stakeholder engagement and education on alternatives needs to be conducted before any decisions are made regarding fencing of National Parks and Reserves in Kenya.

KUAPO supports a national conservation agenda that actively involves the People of Kenya as caretakers of wildlife by embracing age-old philosophy, traditions, and cultures alongside newer practices for the purpose of eradicating poaching and other environment and wildlife crimes and promoting environmental and social well being. We aim to bring a complete halt to poaching and other wildlife and environmental crimes in Kenya through a participatory approach that inculcates ethics, honesty and age-old cultural conservation practices as well as respect for the individual and joint contribution of all the members.

We are concerned that a unilateral decision may be made on the fencing of national parks and reserves. This fear is based on Dr. Richard Leakey’s recent interview in The Star newspaper. Among other things, Dr. Leakey said that KWS will eventually put up chain link fences with alarm and supervision systems, which cannot be crossed, and that he intends to start raising money for the fencing project in the next six months.

KUAPO understands that fencing is a tangible solution that can appease communities living with wildlife but strongly believes that it does not consider the long-term interests of communities inhabiting wildlife dispersal areas. It is also an approach that reduces general tolerance towards wildlife and one that does not fully take into account the future sustainability of the species and populations that KWS has been protecting.

While scientific thought and analysis is divided on the issue of fencing, with most of the older researchers siding with fencing as policy, there are many newer schools of thoughts that need to be considered. For instance, in Conserving large populations of lions: the argument for fences has holes published in Ecology Letters (2003) the authors says that though fences can reduce conflicts outside protected areas, they however “carry important costs, including ecosystem fragmentation, loss of dispersal and migration routes, genetic isolation, reduced conservation value of buffer zones and consequent loss of wildlife-based economic benefits in buffer zones.” They also say that there is a tendency for the fencing materials to be used for wire snare poaching. Further, they argue that rather than fence off parks, effective lion conservation requires better-funded law enforcement inside reserves, landscape-level strategies that reduce human-wildlife conflict outside reserves, and a high priority for conservation in large and intact ecosystems.

We also cite a policy direction published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, which says that apart from a few countries that have considered fencing an option, in other African countries, authorities are removing fences to restore wildlife populations and migratory movements and to promote wildlife-based economies for conservancies and local communities. The 2015 report; Developing fencing policies for dryland ecosystems says that Southern African Development Community (SADC) made the Phakalane Declaration in 2012 which recommended strategic realignment of veterinary cordon fences (i.e. fences erected for wildlife disease control) to counteract the harmful impacts of fences on wildlife populations. In addition, the non-governmental organization (NGO)-led Transfrontier Conservation Area and privately led conservancy movements across Africa are encouraging the widespread removal of fencing to re-establish large-scale animal movements and to restore wide-ranging species whose populations are no longer viable in small reserves. Some scientists also say that fenced populations have markedly higher budgets for substantially smaller areas that often hold intensively managed lion populations well above carrying capacity.

Furthermore the report; Barriers to Migration: Case Study in Mongolia: Analysing the Effects of Infrastructure on Migratory Terrestrial Mammals in Mongolia by B.Lkhagvasuren, B.Chimeddorj and D.Sanjmyatav , warns against fencing off migratory animals. The report says that denying such animals the “escape option” results in high intra and inter-specific competition, poor body condition, low birth rates and high mortality. It states: “fences constitute death traps for nomadic gazelles, and unhindered movement for gazelles between these areas should be one of several conservation priorities…effective conservation of such species requires integrative approaches that blend science and public policy, such as a willingness to accommodate transboundary animal movements.” The report also states that fencing and fragmentation of habitat into small, and often non-contiguous patches, decreases capacity of large wild herbivores to escape locally poor habitat conditions. Today, it is also quite clear that as climate change increases the importance of wildlife mobility and landscape connectivity, fencing of wildlife should become an action of last resort.

We would like to further stress that no fence can deter human beings from entering a park or reserve to access resources there. This is reiterated in the Journal of Applied Ecology that states that though such fences may be well-constructed and well-maintained they can only be wildlife proof but can never be human proof. “Even the most heavily fortified fences have not prevented the illegal killing of white rhinoceros and black rhinoceros in South Africa over recent years. People are likely to be able to circumvent any fence, but they may also destroy fences in order to gain access to useful resources on the other side of the barrier, such as bush meat, ivory, honey, medicinal plants and grazing.”

For KUAPO, the secret to conserving wildlife lies in forging effective and beneficial engagements between national wildlife authorities and local communities.

We urge KWS to learn from the mistakes made in other countries, where large-scale fencing has not stopped poachers, encroachment and led to genetically isolated populations. We strongly recommend that KWS continue to partner with communities surrounding national parks as provided for in the ‘Wildlife Act 2013’ like some other parastatals are doing. The Kenya Forest Service has partnered with Community Forest Associations in a co-management scheme that is fostering forest conservation successfully. The Kenya Marine Research Institute has partnered with communities through Beach Management Units (BMUs) for restoration of fish spawning areas, fisheries and sustainable fishing. At the same time, non-profit organizations across Kenya are working successfully in community lands and creating corridors of tolerance for wildlife.

Fencing our wildlife may exacerbate the commonly held belief that the wildlife of Kenya is really not Kenya’s collective heritage but the preserve of the government authority mandated as its caretaker on our behalf. Let us take this opportunity to use appropriate land-use planning to develop policy that will further inculcate communities into the protection of their wildlife, as opposed to alienating them. We ask for the necessary engagement of all stakeholders to discuss, educate, plan and implement how to resolve human-wildlife conflict, poaching, encroachment and trespassing with a holistic view of cost-effective options.

Over the last week, there has been a certain level of hype surrounding the proposed Waa Whale Shark research and tourism project that has recently been granted a license by NEMA. At the offset, we want to stress that this approval from NEMA does not mean that this project CAN go ahead. There are many licenses and permits they still need to get.

But for those of us who have not been privy to all the details regarding this endeavour, we would like to take a moment and rewind back to early 2013 when the Whale Shark research and tourism project (far cry from a sanctuary so we shall not call it that) was unveiled as an emerging threat to the tourism industry and marine wildlife in the area.

In early 2013, Seaquarium Ltd proposed to capture and place healthy migratory whale sharks in an open sea enclosure off the southern Kenyan coast purportedly for the purposes of “tourism and conservation”. This proposal drew widespread criticism from marine biologists, conservation and animal welfare groups, nationally and internationally as the proposed project not only violated the welfare of the Whale Shark but also because the proponent appallingly cast aspersions on members of a local community inferring that they have been hunting the sharks – claims which were and remain completely unsubstantiated.

Following a public hearing in March 2013, the plan proposed by Seaquarium Ltd to capture wild whale sharks and transfer them to a circular enclosure (whose dimensions would be 150m across and upto 14m deep) and charge tourists to swim with them was rejected by NEMA on several grounds including animal cruelty and a flawed ESIA which did not take into account the negative impact on the tourism industry of enclosing animals that are migratory in nature and move large distances and inflated the tourism benefits.Many groups were involved in this opposition including the Kenya Wildlife Service, Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Born Free and several others.

Following the rejection by NEMA to grant them a license, Seaquarium Ltd appealed the decision and the trial was ongoing at the National Environmental Tribunal (NET) since mid 2013. We  reviewed the appeal and found that it suffered from much the same flaws as did the initial ESIA in that it grossly understated the effects of capture and captivity on a Whale Shark while overstating the financial benefits of the project. Since tourists have the option of swimming with wild, free-living whale sharks at a number of sites on the East African coast, there would be no reason for them to choose to come and see the animals placed in an enclosure in Kenya. Furthermore, this project still does not have the endorsement of the Kenya Wildlife Service, which is ultimately the protector of all wildlife in Kenya – terrestrial and marine.

The case was ongoing till August 2015 when all of a sudden it was withdrawn by the project proponent. A month later, we learnt that NEMA had now granted Seaquarium Ltd a license to capture and enclose one whale shark for an indefinite period of time for a research-tourism project. While there are many requirements before the project can commence, most of us are left flummoxed by this turn of events. 

We would like everyone to understand that at this point, in our reading of the license accorded by NEMA, there are still many more permits and licenses required for Seaquarium before it can begin to operate and actually capture (god forbid) a whale shark. We have written to NEMA asking for the following clarifications but are yet to receive a response on what Seaquarium can and cannot do before it gets all the licenses and permits required. We encourage everyone to read the attached license provided by NEMA and if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns please feel free to write us at

Kenya is known as one of the last places in the world where wildlife can run, swim and fly unfettered. Let’s keep it that way.

We would like to welcome Seaquarium to use its extensive resources to fund conservation, research and education in a constructive manner, which can enable the free-living Whale Sharks to retain their animal freedoms and also provide benefits to the community.

By Salisha Chandra (@salisha_ww) Founding Member of KUAPO

Yes I know, those are a lot of long words beginning with the letter “c” in one sentence. But it is an important sentence and one that I hope pushes those who support conservation efforts to look deeper and further, beyond the rhetoric and the magniloquence that you maybe assailed with, to real, actual and measurable impacts.

Any conservation organisation worth its salt should have in place an evaluation framework that allows it to, as unbiasedly as possible, measure its progress towards the goals that it has set for itself. Whether the organisation is field-based or advocacy oriented, it would have adopted specific activities and outputs that it believes will result in the ultimate outcomes or goals. In the case of an advocacy-based strategy for instance: how do we know that it is actually effective – does it reach the right people, do those people have the power to make decisions and are they incentivised to make those decisions? How do we know that it is the conservation groups activities or outputs that have led to change? Would that change have happened anyway? To put it bluntly – “correlation is not causation” and that’s the the crux of today’s blog post.

At the heart of every evaluation framework is the “assumption” that if X had not done Y then Z would not have happened. To put it in less abstract terms, we could say for instance “if KUAPO had not marched on the streets on January 22nd, 2013 then the government would never have passed the wildlife act.” This is the counterfactual – a conditional statement that assumes what the outcome would have been had the activity we mentioned not taken place. In this case, the evaluation framework being used is a simple pre and post comparison that analyses outcomes prior to and subsequent to the introduction of the program. Unfortunately this assumption does not hold in the majority of cases.

So let’s examine this sample statement a little further – KUAPO marched and petitioned the government in the first quarter of 2013 . The government passed the Wildlife Act in December 2013. Did anything else change during that time period? Were there other conservation organisations lobbying for the same thing? Was the new Cabinet Secretary mandated to ensure that this bill finally passed through parliament? In other words, can we really and definitively say that the only reason the bill was passed is because KUAPO marched and if we hadn’t, the bill would still be pending? Of course not! In order to do this, we would need to statistically account for every other factor that could possibly affect the outcome. While monitoring changes in outcomes overtime is valuable, it does not allow us to determine conclusively whether – or by how much – a particular program contributed to that change because there are other time varying factors existing that are affecting the same outcome. And this leads us to the “counterfeit counterfactual” which basically means that the pre-program outcome is never a good estimate of the counterfactual (what would have happened were there no program).

Let’s take another example – the hunting debate – we talked about this in our previous blog post  but bring it up again here because it is worth reiterating. Proponents of hunting always fall back on this statement -“Look at Kenya since it banned sport hunting, it has lost 70% of its wildlife”. Here the counterfactual is that if Kenya had not banned sport hunting, we would not have lost 70% of our wildlife. This naive argument suffers from the same issues we explained regarding KUAPO’s marches and the passing of the bill – the existence of time varying factors other than the banning of hunting that led to this decline e.g., population growth, price of ivory, poverty levels, climate change etc – the list is almost endless.

So you get the point right? Conservation and the counterfeit counterfactual share a long history and as supporters of hakuna matata - colorconservation – we urge you to look beyond these superficial statements and ask yourselves – what is this program really doing? what is its true impact? and was it solely responsible for the change as it claims?


P.S. KUAPO is working towards building a framework based on our strategy that will allow us to measure what impact we are having. Stay tuned!

By Salisha Chandra (@salisha_ww) Founding Member of KUAPO

It’s the classic statement – and the most irrational of rebukes – whenever the hunting community is pushed into a corner, they retaliate and say “Look at Kenya, they have lost more than 70% of their wildlife since they banned hunting”.  And frankly we are tired of this overused and inaccurate argument that suffers from a key flaw in logic – causal inference. We will explain later exactly what this means so keep reading.

KUAPO normally does not need to comment on issues of trophy and sport hunting because lucky for us, we happen to live in Kenya which banned sport hunting in 1977. Since then, ardent conservationists and communities have managed to continue to stave off pressure from external groups wanting Kenya to reverse this ban and reintroduce hunting. All under the guise of conservation. However, Cecil’s murder at the hands of trophy hunter, American dentist Walter Palmer and the recent news that Zimbabwe has decided not to press charges against him because the hunt was “legal” has pushed us to comment.

Today we want to address the many fallacies that are out there with respect to hunting and conservation and hunting and Kenya. So here goes:

  1. Hunting is NOT conservation: In the days of yore, when hunters and gatherers, lived in balance with the environment and did so in a sustainable manner, yes hunting did help to keep things in balance. But those days are long gone. Today humans have become what is called the unsustainable super predator. A recent paper shows “that humans kill adult prey, the reproductive capital of populations, at much higher median rates than other predators (up to 14 times higher), with particularly intense exploitation of terrestrial carnivores and fishes.” Further it concludes that “Given this competitive dominance, impacts on predators, and other unique predatory behavior, we suggest that humans function as an unsustainable “super predator,” which—unless additionally constrained by managers—will continue to alter ecological and evolutionary processes globally.”  It really couldn’t be more clear – we do not need to go on hunting expeditions to manage wildlife populations.
  2. Hunting DOES NOT provide benefits to communities that live with wildlife: There have been so many studies that have clearly shown that actually very little if any of the so-called funds raised by hunting actually reach these communities. In fact even research published by the pro-hunting International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, supported by other authors, finds that hunting companies contribute only 3% of their revenue to communities living in hunting areas. WHAT? Yes in fact most of the so-called funds raised for conservation does not accrue to local people and businesses, but to firms, government agencies and individuals located internationally or in national capitals – add to that corruption and well we leave it to you to conclude what that means. Furthermore, even the amount of funds generated by trophy hunting industry is minuscule compared to what is generated from nature-based tourism.
  3. Banning Hunting is NOT the reason why wildlife in Kenya has declined: This key argument is something that all “hunting conservationists” fall back on – but look at Kenya, they banned hunting and they have lost so much of their wildlife. Yes there is no doubt that Kenya has lost 70% of its wildlife population since the 70’s but to attribute that to ONE thing (banning hunting) is the most naive (at best) and stupid (at ….) conclusion! Really there is only ONE reason why a country could possibly see a decline in wildlife. Does that mean that Botswana should see a rapid decline in all their conservation efforts now that they have banned hunting ? Hasn’t it been a year since they did so? Surely poaching must have spiralled? What is that you say? No it hasn’t? Well there you have it. I am sorry if it sounds like I am going to on a bit of a rant here – but I am. This sort of causal inference – meaning because of this this has happened – is completely irresponsible. In fact a recent paper that has looked into the “no-hunting” model has concluded the same. Did you know that the decline in large mammals in South Africa is 38%? Almost the same as Kenya at 43%!  And that furthermore, having this debate takes the focus away from what really needs to be addressed on the ground – the real reasons behind this decline in wildlife are enforcement of law, lack of inclusion of communities in wildlife management and inequitable distribution of benefits, human population growth and lack of territorial planning/land-use plans. And as we have demonstrated above, none of these are actually solved by introducing hunting. One only has to look at our neighbours Tanzania and look at the killing fields there where 10,000 elephants have perished in no time to know that hunting is not the solution nor is banning hunting the primary cause of wildlife decline.

Leaving aside the moral debate on killing sentient beings for some sort of personal pleasure, adrenalin rush or feeling of accomplishment – let us face the facts, there is no great conservation value to hunting…there is only value to those who are lining their pockets from the monies that come from it.


MORE READING for the interested:

KUAPO is proud to have supported the recent anti-poaching campaign that was held in Kirimon, led by one of our members – Osotua Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants. The need for a campaign there arose after tensions were high. There were several reports of poached elephants in the area prompting an immediate response that unfortunately had to be delayed because of the political clan violence continuing over the last few months. We are very happy that OWF and STE managed to visit the area. Please read below the report from Tom Lolosoli of Osotua Wildlife Foundation, summarizing the day. We hope to continue a systematic approach to working with the people in the area to reduce poaching by engaging local communities in a meaningful way.


Save the Elephants (STE) and Osotua Wildlife Foundation (OWF) is pleased to have met people of Sagumai in the larger Kirimon area to share conservation knowledge and wildlife protection with a focus on elephants. Sagumai is a migratory corridor for elephants along Kirimon part of the extended corridor from Kirisia-Kirimon-Ol Donyiro-Kipsing-Westgate-Matthews Ranges & Samburu NR – Sera/Kauro-Biliqo Bulesa, -Kina/Meru NP-Tana River, making it a key area for protection of wildlife.

In Monitoring of Illegal Killings of Elephants (MIKE) data, Kirisia Forest and Kirimon have been established to be one of the key problem areas and previous anti-poaching sensitization meetings had already been held in Lodokejek and Kirisia areas with promsing results. We hope the same for Sagumai. Ol Donyiro which is also a known hot spot has been covered several times by our campaigns including other areas of Isiolo like Ngaremara and Atan and in Samburu East, Ngilai, Ndonyo Wuasin, Laresoro and Sereolipi.

The reception in Sagumai was overwhelming,  the need and benefits for conservation were discussed at length. Not only did our campaign share conservation knowledge with locals but also resolved some resistance to set up a conservancy in the area by a section of some community members. Our team ended their journey in Lekuru Livestock Market about 20KMS away where we reached many more people.

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We are grateful that our campaigns, in their small ways, have been able to stop poaching in Samburu/Isiolo region which in 2010/11 was leading in the country with an average of 239 elephants killed for their tusks a year. Since 2013, the trends have dropped sharply.

We understand that the Communities are the eyes and protectors. Employing 100, 000 rangers won’t stop poaching if communities are not sensitized. Rangers would also not be everywhere all the time, but community will be.

Our next plan is to go inside Kirisia forest for another jaunt and Ngurunit areas as we also progressively venture into Marsabit County.

Among our team, are reformed poachers like Koyaso Lekoloi.


We would like to thank and make our sincere appreciation to Kenyans United Against Poaching (KUAPO) for the support in reaching out to the communities always.

Thank you


On July 3rd – there will be a public hearing at KWS headquarters in Nairobi for the “Proposed provision of Southern Bypass Road Transport Corridor on Land currently designated as part of Nairobi National Park.” We would like to take a moment today to share with all of you the essential facts – which are as follows:

  1. A NET ruling in 2013 stopped construction of the Bypass Road in the contentious area between Ole Sereni Hotel and Carnivore Restaurant where the bypass road was planned to encroach into the park. It, further, directed NEMA to comply with both substantive and procedural provision of law in supervising any future EIA processes for the area under contention.
  2. In July 2014, the cabinet approved and directed that approximately 38.8 ha of Nairobi National Parl should upon completion of relevant procedures, cease to be part of the park. The park would be compensated by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure – acre for acre
  3. In Ocober 2014, a joint Inter-Ministerial team determined that the proposed degazettement would take too long and that an easement agreement between KeNHA and KWS be entered into (easement is provided under the land act 2012).
  4. There is a proposal now (sanctioned under Section 38 of the WCMA 2013) that allows for acquiring and exchanging private land with a portion of Nairobi National Park land.
  5. The total park area that would be affected by the Bypass alignment is approximately 89.1 acres, with a monetary value of Kshs 2.7 bn.
  6. The area will affect home ranges of wildlife in the park as will noise during construction, pollution post construction. Existing infrastructure built illegally on the road reserve has already impacted this area of the park.
  7. Field surveys have been carried out by KeNHA and KWS to identify parcels of land south of the park, suitable for wildlife conservation. Approx 380 acres have been identified which house a lodge, and three large residences.
  8. 264 acres of this identified land is already leased by KWS and being used for wildlife conservation. The lease is for 25 years and approximately 20 – 21 years still left on the lease.

This newspaper article outlines some arguments for and against this easement.…/southern-bypass-through-park-fa… The diagram shows how the bypass will curve through the land to maintain distance from Wilson Airport. NNPSBYPASS The Southern Bypass is one that many in Nairobi have been waiting for – it will improve traffic flow and ease congestion (supposedly) but we must also remember that we will be doing so by setting a precedent – by saying it’s ok to illegally build on a road reserve if it’s next to a national park – we will just take that land from the park. Also remember that initially there was no intention by KeNHA to mitigate this issue by providing alternative land parcels to the park. We thank ANAW, EAWLS and Paula Kahumbu for appealing the NEMA license given in 2011 and bringing this issue to the fore. We want you all to read the facts above and come to your own assessment as to what the way forward should be. In our opinion, at the very least the park should be compensated before any construction starts with appropriate land of the same value as the land that is being taken – at best, we should raze down those illegally constructed buildings and right some wrongs. Either way, the Southern Bypass will be built…how much it affects Nairobi National Park depends on how much we care for our heritage….