Applying for a KWS permit to practice game farming
Game farming is increasingly becoming a lucrative venture in Kenya and many farmers are accordingly considering venturing into the practice. There have been calls from varied quarters for farmers not to rely on conventional livestock farming and instead diversify by venturing into rearing non-conventional livestock, what is technically referred to as emerging livestock. These include such animals as crocodile, tortoise, chameleon, snails, frogs, lizards, butterfly, snake and such birds as ostrich, pigeon, doves, ducks, guineafowl, and quelea.
However willing farmers have not been unable to venture into game farming due to ignorance of the legal requirements and other obstacles. The animals listed above are regulated under The Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act Cap.376 of the Laws of Kenya which attracts penalties upon contravention. This Act of Parliament will be repealed and replaced by The Wildlife Bill, 2011 upon enactment into law so that conservation and management of wildlife conforms to the new constitution. The license will be issued according to the seventh and tenth schedule of The Wildlife Bill, 2011 but currently it is under Section 43 and 48 of The Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act Cap. 376.
Once the form has been filled satisfactorily and all the details are in place, the office sends a team of inspectors to your farm to verify the facts as filled in the form and to establish that you meet the requirements for the enterprise. If they are satisfied, the form is forwarded to KWS headquarters in Nairobi for approval by the director. Once approved, a licensing officer, usually a senior warden from the nearest KWS office will issue you with a license to practice game farming upon payment of Kshs 1000 to 2000 depending on the business. The license expires annually and must be renewed.
But this does not end there. The KWS will perform periodic monitoring and inspection to ensure that you maintain the farm as required. If you breach of any of those requirements, the KWS will be forced to withdraw their license. This has happened to a number of farmers, notable being a crocodile farmer from Embu whose licence was withdrawn because he could not rear the reptiles according to laid down provisions. As a result the farmer was forced to abandon the farm leaving 500 crocodiles to starve to death. However one is allowed to re-apply and the license can be re-issued if KWS is satisfied that the conditions have been met.
For any one to keep game animals, they must prove that they are up to date with the husbandry and health of the game animals in question or else hire a specialist. In other circumstances the farmer must seek proof of competence from recognized authorities such as the Department of Livestock Production or the Department of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Livestock Development before KWS approves the license. It is recognized that not all farmers can keep these animals as required and that is why the hands of an expert is mandatory. A farmer who cannot be trusted by KWS on this should therefore save his or her time.
Large scale enterprises like ranches may require an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) before licensing under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, No. 8 of 1999;
Some other requirements are for an ordinary business nature. For example KWS will want to know the name of your business, where it is located, whether you have enough land for the venture, trade license, contact details, nature of business, and others.
Most of the products from game farming are not consumed by the locals. A large portion ends up in very sensitive areas such as tourist joints and exports. Distributors of these products demand a certificate from KWS before they can accept game products from a supplier. KWS also conducts regular inspections to these distributors to ensure compliance with the set regulations.Another key body that has a stake in game and game products is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If the product is destined for export, a tag supplied by CITES indicates the source of the game product.
One important aspect that should not go without mention is the amount of capital requirements for the business. Game farming demands a substantial amount of money and entrepreneurs might be disqualified solely on this basis. As you can see, to be a game farmer you need to be more prepared then an ordinary livestock farmer. However this should not deter you as the benefits you are likely to accrue far outweigh the intricacies you are certainly going to encounter.