By Cheki Abuje
The Kenya forest Services (KFS) across the country has heightened its surveillance on endangered Species among others, the East Africa Saddle wood (Osyris SSP) to protect them from extinction. Senior Forester has disclosed to Africa Science News (ASNS).
In an exclusive interview with the Africa Science News reporter in his Busia regional office, the County Kenya Forest officer Mr. James Were confirmed that the East Africa Saddle wood is facing eminent extinction in Kenya, unless immediate intervention is taken.
Mr. Were noted that the dry-land tree, botanically called Osyris SSP, grows in the dry lands of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, adding that saddle wood has been wiped out in Tanzania due to poaching as Kenya and Uganda are on the pathway of loosing even the germplasm of these endangered species.
”Proper Surveillance, protection and Conservation of the species guarantees Survival of not only Saddle wood, but other endangered species as well”, remarked Were.
He challenged both the national and County Governments, government agencies tasked with environmental conservation and the Communities where Osyris grows to redouble their conservation and protection efforts in the threatened species both in Flora and Fauna.
This remark comes in the wake of an arrest of a saddle wood poacher by Busia Kenya forest service (KFS) in conjunction with Flying Squad Officers and the Kenya police at the Busia-Uganda Border.
Reliable sources privy to the matter has told Africa Science News that the poacher Daniel Njoroge was transporting the product from Naivasha en-route Tororo Uganda, where the industry for Saddle wood products is found.
According to Were, Busia County KFS officer, the poached product is estimated at 2tonnes, with a monetary value of not less than Kshs. 300,000. A kilo of saddle wood is estimated at between Ksh. 150 and 200.
Osyris ssp or saddle wood is a dry land plant that can grow naturally in Kenya. it grows in Baringo, South Nyanza, Muranga kajiado west pokot and Coastal regions as Karamojong areas of Uganda play host to the tree plant. It is used as firewood, but it is economic value is in the perfumes (Beauty) manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries.
Africa Science news has since established that the product is smuggled from Kenya, taken to Uganda for the extraction of the liquid under distillation process and then flown to India to manufacture perfumes and pharmaceutical products.
The East Africa saddle wood falls in the category of presidential protection of threatened species under the Forest Act section 33 (i&ii) that reads in part………any threatened species shall not be Exported, Imported or transported……..
According to Environmental Management and Conservation Authority (EMCA) Act, section 51&52 on in situ and ex situ biodiversity conservation, no one is allowed to trade in endangered species under the protection of the state without the knowledge and valid license from the relevant authority.
Nonetheless, Were appealed to the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to put in place stringent measures and penalty against poachers of threatened Fauna and Flora species, adding that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania s Forest Service, alone cannot win the war to protect and conserve the endangered species without the government and conservation agencies efforts.
He decried the state at which the three East African Countries are losing these endangered species as alarming, calling for a 24/7 surveillance at the Busia-Uganda and Namanga borders on illegal forest products.