HQ address: P O Box 20110-00200
Type of Organisation: NGO,
Interest in Forestry: peripheral
The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) came into being in 1961 through a merger of the Kenya and Tanzania Wild Life Societies (both formed in 1956) and wildlife enthusiasts from Uganda. EAWLS was established as a membership organisation as reflected in its Constitution and is also registered as a Non–Governmental Organisation (NGO) under the NGO Act of Kenya of 1990.
EAWLS has been at the forefront of efforts to protect endangered, rare or threatened species and habitats in East Africa. The Society realises the need for stakeholders in tourism and conservation to come together, providing a forum for the regional community to understand and review how to achieve sustainable environmental management and community benefits through tourism. The vision of such a forum would be to come up with policy and best practice recommendations that would support both these sectors.
The East African region is fraught with numerous environmental problems such as deforestation and desertification, loss of biodiversity, habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, expansion of monocultural crops, high population growth and pervasive poverty. Inappropriate land use policies, over-exploitation of resources and rapid growth have caused severe environmental degradation. Demographic forces have become the most important long-term threats to biodiversity in the region. Overall, the biodiversity of East Africa is undervalued and inappropriately used. In seeking solutions to the problems facing the conservation of biodiversity in the region, it is important to address the underlying causes and not just their symptoms. For over 40 years, EAWLS has been at the forefront in addressing these problems, with an aim to achieve sustainable environmental management and improve the livelihoods of local communities dependent on these resources.
Currently, EAWLS is seen as a leader in building the capacities of community based organisations in the field of conservation. The main aim is to enable these organisations not only mobilise funds and resources but also to have the necessary technical skills and organisational capacity to effectively manage natural resources in their respective areas: for example, the National Plan for Agenda 21, endorsed by the global community in Brazil in 1992 strongly supports the conservation of biodiversity including wildlife resources. Several countries, including East African states (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) signed the Biological Diversity Convention, and have since ratified it. Implementation of the many aspects of this Convention is on-going.
In the 1980s, EAWLS was instrumental in initiatives for the conservation of elephants and the establishment of rhino sanctuaries in Kenya. It was again instrumental in advocating for the establishment of a quasi-government institution to run the National Parks and Reserves in Kenya during the same period. This effort resulted into the establishment of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
Since then, EAWLS and KWS have been complementary in their high echelons of conservation and leadership. This relationship has significantly contributed to building the Society into a recognised and reputable conservation organisation globally.
The Society holds Loefler talks every three months in memory of Imre Loefler, a former Chairman of the Society who died two years ago, at Karen and Muthaiga County Clubs. The talks are a mixture of discussions by versed speakers from different fields. Conservation issues are discussed and members/participants have a chance to question and debate them, as these forums are very popular and open to all.