Newly launched forum to enhance global biodiversity preservation

A new network of experts known as Kenya Species Specialist Group will combine a comprehensive set of actions aimed at advancing the cause of species preservation.

By Odhiambo David |

A forum that seeks to bring together a variety of experts dealing with unique animal and plant species has been launched.

The initiative which is poised to enhance specialists’ capacity to protect and preserve unique species is a strong collection of specialists from various disciplines will drive evidence-based conservation efforts to address global challenges of biodiversity loss and sustainability.

According to Dr. Patrick Omondi, the Director and CEO of Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI), the formation of the network known as the Kenya Species Specialist Group (KeSSG) is a significant step forward in safeguarding Kenya’s rich biodiversity.

He was speaking during the launch of the group at the First Scientific Wildlife Conference being held in Naivasha, Kenya from September 26-29, 2023.

The initiative, spearheaded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), will operate under the umbrella of the Union’s Species Survival Commission (SSC), and represents a collaborative endeavour that brings together diverse specialist groups worldwide, uniting the knowledge of national experts to combat the alarming decline of the Earth’s biodiversity.

Integration of species information into development sector planning and national strategies is a key issue among species specialists.

The specialist group aims to pool the expertise of specialists from various taxonomic groups across the country, fostering cooperation and sharing critical knowledge.

By doing so, it aspires to confront the issues posed by biodiversity loss and emerging sustainability challenges head-on.

“Moreover, this collaborative approach will significantly contribute to the globally acclaimed IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” according to a media release from the IUCN.

The network will work within an extensive pool of 8,500 specialists and encompassing 184 specialist groups across the globe.

“This vast network represents a united front in the battle to safeguard the planet’s diverse ecosystems and the species that call them home,” added the media release.

“The KeSSG marks a milestone for Kenya to draw on a huge body of science to inform conservation policy and practice. By bringing these experts together, we are enhancing our capacity to protect and preserve the unique species that call Kenya home,” said Luther Anukur, the Regional Director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The KeSSG will work within the confines of IUCN Regional/National guidelines. This will involve assessing the conservation status of priority species in Kenya, providing training to members and stakeholders, and developing and implementing species action plans in alignment with the strategic plans of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Wildlife Research and Training Institution (WRTI).

WRTI Director Dr Patrick Omondi and IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Director Mr Luther Anukur at the launch of Kenya Species Specialist Group which works on a sustainable and harmonious coexistence between humanity and the natural world.

“The initiative represents a collaborative approach to species conservation. Through this, we can further develop holistic strategies that address the complex challenges faced by our diverse wildlife and, in turn, share our knowledge and learn from a global network of species experts,” added Dr. Simmy Bezeng, Regional Red List and Key Biodiversity Area Programme Officer for the IUCN Species Survival Commission

The forum will be co-chaired by key government agencies responsible for biodiversity conservation, including the Wildlife Research and Training Institute and the National Museums of Kenya, with the active support of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and other stakeholders.

The new network will be co-chaired by key government agencies that ensure sustainable conservation of Kenya's natural resources.
PHOTO I IUCN/Peter Karanja

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