State Backs Bill To Pay Victims Of Whale, Shark Attacks

    Great white shark breeching in the ocean

    The State has now thrown its weight behind an amendment Bill that aims to reintroduce payments for death or injury resulting from attacks by Sharks, Stone Fish, Sting Ray and Whales.

    The Wildlife Conservation and Management (Amendment) Bill 2023 sponsored by Lamu East MP Ruweida Obo seeks to include Sharks, Stone Fish, Whales and Stingrays among wildlife species in respect of which compensation as result of death and injury may be paid.

    The National Assembly in 2019 amended the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 and removed sharks, whales, stonefish, stingrays and snakes from the list of wildlife species in respect of which compensation is payable for death or injury.

    Rescinding their initial objection to the amendment, the State Department for Wildlife expressed its agreement to the amendment Bill reinstating Sharks, Stone Fish, Whales and Stingrays onto the compensation schedule on Thursday.

    While removing snake bites and marine creatures from the compensation schedule in 2019 , the state urged that it will help bring down the compensation claims, which stood at Sh2.6 billion in the year to June 2023.

    Appearing before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Tourism and Wildlife on Thursday, Principal Secretary, State Department for Wildlife Silvia Museiya urged parliament to increase the budgetary allocation for compensation due to wildlife attacks as well as formulate a comprehensive legal framework that can effectively govern the compensation process.

    She said the ministry rationale is rooted in the concern that an absence of such guidelines could potentially trigger an overwhelming influx of compensation claims.

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    “As a ministry, we are fully aligned in our support for this amendment bill, considering that these species had previously been accounted for in the compensation schedule. Consequently, we hold no objections to their reintroduction, we can only ask parliament to increase the budget allocated to compensation claims arising from wildlife attacks,” said PS Museiya.

    She went on: “However, we also need to determine the threshold of a compensable claim, because the idea of compensation is that someone must have taken due care and still got hurt by an animal. This is therefore, to ask parliament to develop some regulatory framework so that we can compensate one injury and not the other,”

    “We do not want to fall into the trap, where we have 100 species of compensable animals and that require some regulatory framework and those regulations we can develop together with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS),” she added.

    Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki, who chairs the committee sought clarification from the State department wondering whether enhancement of the compensation schedule was conditional approval subject to parliament increasing the budget.

    “Madam PS, are you giving conditional approvals that we increase the compensation schedule subject to parliament, giving the extra funding,” said Mbiuki.

    “Is this subject to parliament amending the act further, by reducing the bereavement from five to three; if we fail to do that, will you be still comfortable because we cannot be you cannot guarantee that there will be extra funding,” he added.

    Museiya said the ministry had no problem with the four species that were removed from the 2013 act to be reinstate to the compensation schedule.

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    “We are saying that by introducing four of those water species. You could have more members by the time it goes to the floor of the house adding say snakes to the compensable schedule,” she said, adding that, “It is not an impossibility that other members of Parliament would want to add more species in their areas of concern.”

    To avoid more species being added to the compensation list, the PS asked Parliament to work closely with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to develop regulations so as to understand which animals can be compensated and why and which ones cannot and why.

    “So that we have something that is also tenable in law. I was just kindly indulging you that as we add more species, we will need to add more funding, not on a conditional,” she added.