Kenya Wildlife Service

We hold in trust, for now and tomorrow the responsibility for the protection and conservation of Kenya’s extraordinary natural wealth, as represented by its fauna, flora and natural beauty. Kenya Wildlife Service will manage these resources, which are of inestimable economic, socio-cultural, aesthetic and scientific value. To fulfil this mission, Kenya Wildlife Service will develop the required human resources, achieve financial self-sufficiency and encourage the support and participation of the people of Kenya.”

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is a government parastatal entrusted with the protection and conservation of Kenya’ s flora and fauna. KWS was established in January 1990 under the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Amendment Act. Since its inception, security in both the national parks reserves has greatly improved and poaching, which saw the disappearance of 85% of the nation’s elephants and 97% of the rhinos between 1975 and 1985, has almost been eliminated. From 16,000 elephants in 1989 the population has increased to 26,000 and the rhino population is now up to 475.

KWS manages 26 national parks, 22 national reserves, five marine reserves and one national sanctuary. Wildlife viewing is a major attraction in Kenya’s tourism industry and receipts from visitors to the parks and reserves is the main source of income for KWS.

KWS collaborates with many different groups in the development of wildlife tourism, notably the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, the industry represented by the Kenya Association of Tour Operators, and the Kenya Association of Hotel keepers and Caterers. Each group has different priorities but are interdependent in regard to conservation and tourism.

As indicated by the mission statement, the principal goals of KWS can be defined as:

  • to conserve the natural environments of Kenya and their flora and fauna for the benefit of present and future generations and as a world heritage.
  • to use the wildlife resources of Kenya sustainably for the economic development of the nation and for the benefit of the people living in the wildlife areas
  • to protect people and property from injury or damage from wildlife KWS encourages some wildlife area activities such as :

KWS Mission Statement

On behalf of the Government of Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service holds in trust for present and future generations locally, nationally and globally the biological diversity represented by its extraordinary variety of animals, plants and ecosystems ranging from coral reefs to alpine moorlands and from deserts to forests. Special emphasis is placed on conservation of large mammals found in few other places on earth.


To maintain and develop a viable conservation area system, ensuring that a representative and sustainable sample of biodiversity is protected.

To build partnerships, to conserve biodiversity and to ensure that custodians benefit.

To take a lead role in developing sustainable nature tourism and maximizing the economic benefit to the nation and minimizing negative environmental impacts.

Any information relating to the Kenya Wildlife Service can be obtained by writing to:

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Its Mandate and Mission

KWS is a state corporation with a mandate to conserve and manage wildlife resources in Kenya as directed in the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) (Amendment) Act of 1989. Its responsibilities include custody of Kenya’s fifty-six protected areas (twenty-six national parks and thirty national reserves), used to conserve ecosystems and areas of distinct biodiversity. In addition, these areas are used for tourism, education and research and are expected to generate revenue for government and local people.

KWS is also responsible for wildlife outside the protected areas. In fact, more than 70 percent of Kenya’s wildlife moves freely outside the protected areas. Kenya is especially renowned for the abundance and diversity of its wildlife, which appears to subsist with uncharacteristic ease amid human settlements and other land uses in the countryside outside national parks and reserves. These areas have wildlife because of several factors:

  • natural biodiversity in relatively undisturbed tropical ecosystems,
  • prevalence of rangeland with extensive grazing systems,
  • local communities’ traditional respect for wild animals, and
  • legal protection of wild animals, including a ban on hunting and prohibition of trade in wildlife and wildlife products.

Under changing socio-economic conditions, however, wildlife outside protected areas in Kenya can not be taken for granted. Increasingly, subtle policy issues – not simply an academic or global love of nature, aesthetic value and economic returns from tourism – come into play in the conservation of the country’s wildlife.

KWS Objectives and Strategy Outside the Protected Areas

KWS believes that conservation of wildlife outside the protected areas cannot be achieved by protected areas cannot be achieved by protecting animals and avoiding issues of people’s needs and rights and their conflicts with wildlife. Furthermore, conflicts cannot be eliminated without incurring a double loss: destruction of the animals that are the cause and maintenance of expensive control-shooting operations. A sustainable strategy of integrating wildlife management with landowners’ common objectives is preferable, and KWS aims to establish wildlife as a land-use alternative in areas outside the protected national parks and reserves.

Toward this end, KWS has started the Community Wildlife Service (CWS), a pilot extension service, to establish modalities for community partnership and management of wildlife. CWS encourages landowners in selected conservation units (COUs) to allow wildlife to inhabit their land and also to accept training and certain responsibilities delegated by KWS. In return, landowners receive certain wildlife-related revenue-sharing and consumptive-utilization enterprises (i.e tourism). Participatory procedures for mobilizing and training communities for wildlife management, including local wildlife associations and problem-animal control committees (PACCs), have been developed.

CWS is financed under COBRA, which aims to increase socio-economic benefits from conservation and sustainable management of wildlife and natural resources in communities adjacent to Kenya’s national parks, with funds from USAID and IDA. COBRA presently is studying wildlife utilization and land-use coordination.

In other wildlife areas outside national parks and reserves, KWS addresses conservation by assisting landowners and local people with tangible benefits derived from wildlife including sharing of park revenue; the promotion of wildlife-based economic activities, principally tourism and wildlife-based economic activities, principally tourism and wildlife utilization; and minimization of conflict through intersectoral land-use planning and construction of physical barriers to animals. Projects under way include the Wildlife for Development Fund (WDF), a fencing programme, the Rural Service Design Project and an elephant programme.

Activities Done in Kenyan National Parks

Most Kenya Safaris are customized around the following adventure activities that can be done in Kenya’s national parks and game reserves.


    Camping can have a low environmental impact and draws on a wide market ranging form the cheapest to the most high spending.


      • This is being developed and will range from short guided walks to long hikes taking several days of Kenya Safari.

Bird Watching:

    Kenya’s exceptional diversity of bird-life attracts a large share of ornithological safaris.

Camel/horse safaris:

    Walking/riding in semi-arid areas.

Student Visits:

    Relatively low price park entry fees. Extended visits by school/university groups combining study and adventure.

Wildness holidays:

    Visits to remote and beautiful landscapes of Kenya.

Snorkelling & Scuba diving:

    • Kenya’s coral reefs have much to offer both the novice snorkeller and the experienced diver.

To enhance visitor satisfaction, KWS will establish visitor information centres and central booking offices in Nairobi and Mombasa and later in other major towns. Maps, guidebooks and other publications will be available at the centres.

KWS has already improved the road networks to redistribute the tourist load within the parks and to eliminate off-road driving. Improvement of roads to restore popular circuits and open up new ones is underway. Seven circuits have been identified, namely the south-west circuit, the west circuit, the mid-northern, the far north, the south-eastern, the coast and the Nairobi circuits.

KWS keeps a 24-hour security watch in the national parks and reserves under its management. Security in the parks has greatly improved and poaching of Wildlife has almost vanished.

KWS Partners

Kenya Wildlife Service Gratefully Acknowledges its Major 1994-95 Project Partners:

  • African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)
  • Block Hotels
  • Chase-Manhattan Bank
  • Conservation of Biodiverse Resource Area (COBRA-USAID)
  • David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
  • Eden Wildlife Trust
  • European Union
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • International Development Association (World Bank)
  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Intra Safaris
  • Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA)
  • Kaplan & Stratton
  • Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)
  • Kenya Indigenous Forest Conservation Programme (KIFCON)
  • Kenya Wildlife Trust London
  • Kreditnstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW)
  • Masai Ostrich Farm
  • Naivasha Gun Syndicate
  • Nautilus Health & Fitness Club
  • The Royal Netherlands Government
  • Overseas Development Administration (ODA)
  • PLAN International
  • Rhi – Elephant Boy
  • Rhino Ark Trust
  • Rose Bank
  • Serena Hotels & Lodges
  • South African High Commission
  • Tusk Force
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • United Touring Company
  • Wildlife Conservation International (WCI)
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

KWS is also most grateful to its other individual and corporate sponsors not listed above.

Any information relating to the Kenya Wildlife Service can be obtained by writing to:

The Director,
Kenya Wildlife Service,
P. O. Box 40241,
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. 254 02 501081,
Fax 254 02 505866/501752