The State has endorsed an amendment Bill aimed at reintroducing compensation for deaths or injuries resulting from attacks by selected fish species.
During a session with the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Tourism and Wildlife, Ms. Silvia Museiya, Principal Secretary of the State Department for Wildlife, advocated for an expanded budget allocation for wildlife attack compensations.
She further emphasized the necessity of establishing a comprehensive legal framework to regulate the compensation process effectively.
The lack of clear guidelines, Museiya pointed out, could lead to an inundation of compensation claims.
“As a ministry, we hold no objections to reintroduction of these marine species onto compensation schedule, we encourage parliament increase the budget to accommodate compensation claims arising from wildlife attacks.” said PS Museiya.
“We also don’t want to fall into the trap, where we have 100 species of compensable animals. I urged parliament to collaborate with us and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to develop a regulatory framework that ensures a judicious compensation process,” she added, insisting that compensation should be granted when an individual has taken reasonable precautions and yet still suffered harm from a wild animal or species.
The Wildlife Conservation and Management (Amendment) Bill 2023, sponsored by Lamu East MP Ruweida Obo, seeks to reclassify sharks, stonefish, whales, and stingrays as wildlife species eligible for compensation in case of death or injury.
In 2019, the National Assembly amended the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, removing sharks, whales, stonefish, stingrays, and snakes from the list of species eligible for compensation in case of harm or death.
However, the State Department for Wildlife, in an unexpected shift, now supports the amendment Bill to include sharks, stonefish, whales, and stingrays back onto the compensation schedule.
Last week, the Wildlife Ministry and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) opposed the reintroduction of payments for death or injury arising from attacks by sharks, stones, stingrays, and whales saying there is an ongoing effort that would see comprehensive reforms in the legal framework governing human-wildlife compensation.
Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki, who chairs the committee sought clarification from the State department wondering whether enhancement of the compensation schedule was conditional approval subject to parliament increasing the budget.
“Madam PS, are you giving conditional approvals that we increase the compensation schedule subject to parliament, giving the extra funding,” posed Hon. Mbiuki.
“Is this subject to parliament amending the act further, by reducing the bereavement from five to three; if we fail to do that, will you be still comfortable because we cannot be you cannot guarantee that there will be extra funding.” He added
Museiya clarified that the Ministry had no objections to reinstating the four species removed in 2013 and encouraged parliament to act prudently to avoid the inclusion of more species in the compensation list.
“What we are saying is that by introducing four of those water species. You could have more members by the time the Bill goes to the floor of the house adding say snakes to the compensable schedule,” she said, adding that, “It is not an impossibility that other members of Parliament would not want to add more species in their areas of concern.”
She recommended close collaboration with KWS to formulate clear regulations that differentiate compensable animals based on defined criteria.