Wildlife conservation is big business in Kenya. The tourism sector, which is mostly wildlife-based, is regularly among the top three contributors to the country’s GDP. As a result, the Kenyan government and the Western media are more than eager to focus on the positive aspects of conservation. But, unfortunately, the real story is not that straightforward.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has unveiled the new generation coins at the Central Bank of Kenya.
The new coins are now legal tender, and will begin to circulate on 11 December 2018 after being gazetted.
They contain images of animals, which have significant aspects of Kenya which will serve as a means of preserving the country’s culture and passing relevant knowledge.
According to the president , a nation’s currency is not merely an instrument for exchange of value. The motifs & design elements on currencies present a unique way of recording history, celebrating a country’s diverse culture and natural environment. The new coins have aspects that best describe our country.
A nation’s currency is not merely an instrument for exchange of value. The motifs & design elements on currencies present a unique way of recording history, celebrating a country’s diverse culture and natural environment. The new coins have aspects that best describe our country. pic.twitter.com/ezhFPlnVa1
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) December 11, 2018
While much wildlife in Kenya has a good life, a number of animals are threatened in their existence. Two of the most important threats to wildlife in Kenya are loss of habitat due to the spreading farms and cities, and poaching for their exotic pelts or horns.
Studies by Dr Joseph Ogutu and colleagues at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) reveal that Kenya’s wildlife numbers are plummeting. Some of our most treasured animals, such as hirola, rhinos, cheetah, lions, and giraffe, are being pushed to the brink of extinction.
This could mean that the new generation currency is in preparation to store Kenyans once legacy of wildlife which now remains threatened and almost extinct as nearly every region and habitat in the country is in trouble.
Unlike the old-generation coins that had portraits of former presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi, the new legal tender features Kenya’s rich wildlife heritage, as follows:
Sh1: Bears the image of a giraffe
Sh5: Bears the image of a rhino
Sh10: Bears the image of a lion
Sh20: Bears the image of an elephant.
Currently, there is an ongoing battle between white settler conservationists from the Laikipia plains and pastoralist communities occupying the neighbouring northern rangelands.
Wildlife conservationists perceive pastoralism as a poor land use method with little economic value, which is detrimental to wildlife. Pastoralists, on the other hand, see wildlife conservation as a large-scale pastoral “land grab”. And as conservationists claim more and more land for “wildlife protection”, Kenyan pastoralists, who had been the true protectors of wildlife for centuries, are swiftly losing their livelihoods.
Kenya is the land of the black rhino, buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, the magnificent giraffe, and yes the picturesque Grevy’s zebra. We also take pride in the iconic wildebeest migration. But how long will this last?