By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Three Kenyan wildlife experts have on the 25th February 2022 presented findings and recommendations on their nationwide assessment and exploration of wildlife tourism resources to the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr Memunatu Pratt during an awareness raising workshop held at the Ministry’s Conference Room on Kingharman Road in Freetown.
The Kenyan experts together with officials from the Tourism Ministry, National Tourist Board, National Protected Area Authority and Conservation Society started the week long exploration and assessment of wildlife tourism resources at Tacugama Chimps Sanctuary, proceeded to Gola Rain Forest, Tiwai Island, Outamba Kilimi National Park, Mamunta Mayosso and a proposed site in Port Loko. The exercise aimed at exploring the possibility of establishing wildlife sanctuaries in protected areas for touristic purposes.
Throughout their assessment of the country’s wildlife tourism resources, the Head of the Kenyan Delegation, Michael Wanjua reiterated the enormous potential Sierra Leone has in terms of wildlife/sanctuary conservation. At Mamunta Mayosso National Sanctuary, Michael Wanjua learnt that there is a lot of birdlife and many other animals including mammals and wildlife species. He said the area can be developed into a tourist attraction centre, hence it is can be easily accessible, has good habitat, good vegetation, wetland ecosystem and wetland habitat. He recommended the restock of wildlife to the area, fencing the area, thus making it a tourism centre.
The Permanent Secretary, Andrew Sorie, commended the expert for traversing the country and assessing protected areas, parks, sanctuaries, hoping that the natural resources will amount to wildlife tourism and the prospects for increased arrivals, investment and job creation.
The Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh, explained the benefits of wildlife tourism which, he said, will contribute greatly to Sierra Leone’s economy. He acknowledged the contributions of the Tourism Minister and Heads of line MDA’s for their pivotal role throughout the exercise.
He said the recommendations proffered by the experts will be put into practice in actualizing Sierra Leone’s wildlife potentials.
In her keynote address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt, appreciated the Kenyans for a job well done saying that it was the first ever national engagement on wildlife tourism, and it happened at a time when the Ministry of Environment had enacted the new Wildlife Act.
She said tourism is now revolutionized and the focus should be on positive activities in answering questions to deforestation and destructive environmental practices. She maintained that tourism is a vehicle for integrated development for developing countries while recognizing the Paramount Chiefs as Ambassadors of wildlife tourism in Sierra Leone.
Presenting their findings and recommendations, the Lead Kenyan expert, Michael Wanjau, talked about conservation issues and context for wildlife tourism in Africa and biodiversity conservation approaches in Africa.
Bernard Njoro, a Kenyan Wildlife expert, presented the SWOT analysis upon which the key recommendations were generated. They recommended active Government presence in all parks and sanctuaries, undertake conservation stakeholders analysis, develop and implement conservation education and sensitization programme and develop basic park infrastructure among others.
The Minister of Environment, Chairman of NTB, Head of NPAA, Paramount Chiefs all made valuable contributions towards the discourse.
A cocktail dinner was hosted by the Ministry for the Kenya experts at Country Lodge. The occasion was climaxed with crowning of the lead Wildlife expert, Michael Wanjau, as Honorary Paramount Chief.