By Ms Juliet O. Nyangái
The World Wildlife Day 2021 theme is; ‘’Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’’. On this day March 3rd 2021, World Wildlife Day aimed at celebrating forest-based live hoods and sought to promote forest and wildlife management models and practices that accommodate both human well-being and long term conservation of forests, forest-dwelling fauna and flora and the ecosystems they sustain, and promote the value of traditional practices and knowledge that contribute to establishing a more sustainable relationship with this crucial natural systems.
It is a great coincidence that on this great day, we also celebrate the late Wangari Maathai, a heroine, an academician and environmentalist most renowned for championing and relentlessly fighting for our forests, trees and greenspaces.
World Wildlife Day is undisputedly quoted as the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife. There are several convincing reasons as to why we should conserve wildlife which this article shall highlight. Further, it is critical to note that conserving wildlife also means conserving their natural habitats including trees and vegetation, which is paramount for medicinal research and other notable vantages. Wildlife conservation also promotes pollination and continuity of native plant species plus also aids in aesthetic benefits as watching animals in their natural habitats is not only entertaining but also fun and relaxing thus promoting and boosting tourism. It is no brainer that tourism is a source of income amongst the local communities and country at large. The benefits of wildlife conservation are vast and cannot be undermined.
This year 2021, Kenya Wildlife Service, the only state corporation with the mandate to conserve and manage Kenya’s wildlife celebrated this great day in Shimoni, where most of the mangrove forest formations in Kwale County are found. The focus was, restoration of mangroves and their significance. Mangrove forests stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves and tides and. Mangrove not only protect the shoreline but also provide shelter for marine fish and other organisms that are a source of food. The objective was celebrating the link between community and conservation. As per the KWS Twitter handle, the Service celebrates the expansion of community wildlife conservancies, an initiative to increase space for Wildlife Conservation and improve community livelihoods.
KWS must be applauded for the apt choice venue. Mangroves provide an important habitat to a wide array of marine and terrestrial species. It is a known fact that conserving flora and fauna encourages ecological stability and balance as plants play a vital role in ensuring a healthy ecosystem by balancing carbon dioxide and oxygen in the environment. Conservation of wildlife requires the involvement of local population as protecting wildlife is not just a preserve or concern for conservationists, the economic and social value of endangered species makes their survival crucial to the local communities living alongside them.
Community participation in wildlife protection and conservation is also vital as they are the true owners and play a fundamental role in the conservation of biological diversity. The communities have lived alongside this flora and fauna for years and their traditional knowledge on climate variability can also enrich substantively scientific knowledge and adaptation activities of others. Lastly is it important for the local communities to work together to protect the habitat as they will be able to live in a more healthier environment devoid of environmental hazards plus trees and the forests are significant even in their way of life as they rely on the various ecosystem for their livelihoods and for their most basic needs including food, shelter, energy and medicines.
Community-based conservation involves the local people in not only protection of the habitat but also allows them to still derive benefits of its resources. Even as we celebrate this great day, let us all remember that we are all members of a larger community, the global space and we can all play a role in celebrating our wildlife. We do not necessarily have to live alongside a forest to be a contributor to a healthy environment, you can do simple things that can impact our ecosystem and biodiversity like; plant a tree, desist from littering, use less water or even choose reusable goods such as reusable cloth bags. As Wangari Maathai said, ‘’It’s the little things that citizens do. That’s what will make a difference’’ let us then all be motivated, to be the change that you wish in the world!
The author is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and manages the Firm of Juliet Nyangai & Company Advocates. She is a nature lover and passionate about the Environment and Conservation.
She can be reached on email@example.com Twitter; @nyangaij