August 30, 2023, Mombasa. Under the umbrella of the GEF 6 UNDP IWT Project titled “Combating Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trafficking through an Integrated Approach,” led by the State Department for Wildlife in Kenya and its counterpart in Tanzania, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force facilitated the successful organization of a pivotal two-day consultative stakeholder’s workshop. The event brought together experts of diverse skillsets from various government agencies, community conservation initiatives and non-governmental organizations with focus on the management and sustainable conservation of the Mara/Serengeti and Tsavo/Mkomazi ecosystems.

As enshrined in the UNDP IWT project, the primary objective of the workshop was to foster cooperation and address the challenges related to illegal trade and trafficking through an integrated approach. This approach aims to ensure the sustainable conservation of the Mara/Serengeti and Tsavo/Mkomazi Ecosystems, two of East Africa’s most ecologically and economically viable transboundary ecosystems.  The workshop set out to enhance cooperation and establish sustainable conservation practices for the efficient management of these transboundary ecosystems.

The workshop was graced by the Chief Guest, Ms. Silvia Museiya, Principal Secretary of the State Department for Wildlife, Dr. Erustus Kanga, Director-General of the Kenya Wildlife Service, Mr. Eligi Kimario, Principal Game Officer from Tanzania Wildlife Division, as well as Mr. Edward Phiri, Director Lusaka Agreement Task Force.

Ms. Silvia Museiya highlighted the critical role of wildlife as both an economic asset and an ecological boon to both Kenya and Tanzania. She pointed out that the two ecosystems are not only sources of revenue but also act as value of transboundary conservation including ecological benefits alongside enhanced socio-economic resilience and strengthened political relation to the countries. The PS stressed that their conservation and protection will go a long way in meeting the needs of the present generation as well as catering for the needs of the future generations. The Chief Guest emphasized that the workshop’s mission was to streamline sustainable cross-border wildlife conservation and urged participants to collaborate in crafting a robust roadmap for cooperation.

Dr. Erustus Kanga drew attention to the numerous challenges facing these iconic conservation areas, including bushmeat poaching, livestock incursions, climate change, and encroachment. He urged all participants to unite behind a shared vision, reiterating that the Mara/Serengeti and Tsavo/Mkomazi ecosystems should be safeguarded to  serve as a model for East Africa and the entire continent.

Mr. Eligi Kimario underscored the vital role these ecosystems play in the cultural, economic, and human sustainability of both countries. He emphasized that the workshop presented a crucial opportunity to explore and identify solutions to issues such as encroachment on migratory corridors, human-wildlife conflicts and the exchange of valuable conservation information.

Mr. Edward Phiri highlighted that LATF has been at the forefront in assisting Member States in combating wildlife crimes through cooperative law enforcement operations and capacity building. Mr. Phiri emphasized that the two landscapes transcend political boundaries, therefore enhancing habitat connectivity, safeguarding migratory corridors, and bolstering wildlife security should key priority conservation measures in the landscape. “Our strength lies in our unity, and collaboration among nations forms the bedrock of effective conservation.” He said.

The workshop yielded several key recommendations aimed at advancing the collaborative efforts between Kenya and Tanzania in the sustainable conservation of the Mara/Serengeti and Tsavo/Mkomazi ecosystems. It proposed undertaking a benchmarking mission to the KAZA region designed to provide valuable insights into the successful practices of the KAZA TFCA, which serves as a source of inspiration and guidance for the establishment of similar conservation areas.

The workshop also emphasized the need to establish a dedicated working group tasked with an in-depth evaluation of the existing mechanisms related to the transboundary management of the Mara/Serengeti and Tsavo/Mkomazi ecosystems. This crucial step precedes the formal formulation of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and the Trans-frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) Treaty, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the conservation landscape.

Furthermore, the workshop recommended an assessment of the provisions of the current legal framework essential for anchoring the Mara/Serengeti and Tsavo/Mkomazi TFCA. Understanding and solidifying the legal aspects of this initiative are integral for the long-term success and sustainability of the two ecosystems.

The two countries also reached a consensus on the importance of internalizing the significance of establishing the MOU as a foundational step towards the TFCA Treaty’s development. To achieve this, a working group will be entrusted with the responsibility to identify the critical issues and provide direction for the collaborative efforts of Kenya and Tanzania. Key actions and a clear timeframe were established to guide this important work.

The coordination of this initiative will be overseen by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, ensuring that the agreed-upon measures are diligently implemented within the provided timelines. These recommendations signify a proactive approach towards the effective management and conservation of these precious ecosystems, underscoring the commitment of both nations to conservation.