Wednesday, January 18, 2006



Dear Mr. President,

We, the organisations and local communities against the Thai Zoo deal, together with thousands of concerned citizens in Kenya and around the world, are strongly opposed to the government’s decision to export 175 of Kenya’s free-ranging wild animals to the Chiang Mai Night Safari zoo in Thailand. We believe Kenya’s wildlife should remain in Kenya for the benefit of all Kenyans, as part of our magnificent national heritage. Outlined below are the reasons for our concern:

  • The animals involved include threatened species on Appendix II of the CITES list such as the Serval cat, Crowned crane, Lesser flamingo and Hippopotamus. The export of such species sends the wrong signals internationally and undermines Kenya’s future ability to lobby and safeguard endangered wildlife species within the CITES framework.

  • According to a 2004 report by the Department of Remote Sensing and Resource Survey , Kenya’s wildlife population declined by 40–60% between 1977 and 2004. This massive reduction has continued unabated due to the rampant illegal bush meat trade, excision of forests and widespread encroachment into parks and reserves for human settlement. We note with concern that the wildlife population figures advanced by the government spokesman are not based on any known national wildlife species census and, consequently, cannot be reliably used to justify the export.

  • There is evidence of drastic decline and even localised extinction of some wildlife species in habitats across the country. We believe that there are more ecological and economic gains to be had from restocking such habitats from overpopulated areas (e.g. elephants from Shimba Hills to Tsavo), as opposed to token wildlife exports. Kenya has a hard-earned reputation for being compassionate and precautionary when it comes to the protection of its wildlife. This reputation, built over decades, will be placed in jeopardy by this single act, nullifying the international goodwill that accompanies it.

  • The process of capturing wild animals, caging them and transporting them over long distances is a procedure that should only be undertaken when absolutely necessary. For example, the relocation of endangered species such as the Black Rhino, and restocking of protected areas are essential wildlife management procedures. The intended Thai Zoo capture will certainly result in stress and mortality. In our opinion, it is neither essential nor necessary. Zoos worldwide can source animals from amongst themselves and not from the wild. Further, factoring in mortalities will demand that the total number of animals captured must surely exceed the designated 175.

  • The intended export undermines the authority of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), whose legislation superintends ALL other environmental laws. Section 53 (1) & (2) of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act, for instance, lays out the specific conditions under which genetic resources, such as wildlife, can be transferred to non-citizens. Neither these conditions, nor the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment, have been met.

  • Kenya’s wildlife has evolved within our local environments for hundreds of thousands of years. There are real dangers, therefore, in taking them to an alien environment, where they may be exposed to potentially fatal diseases. There is also the risk of these animals transferring zoonotic diseases to Thailand. These are some of the issues we believe an Environmental Impact Assessment should have addressed before the MoU was signed.

  • The intended export is at odds with official national policy. Kenya has built an international reputation for its anti-wildlife trade stance. The intention to use wildlife gifts to gain diplomatic and economic leverage amounts to trade in disguise and is therefore, in our view, unethical. Economic gains, so far as Kenya’s wildlife policy is concerned, are meant to be incidental to conservation, and it is not clear whether this zoo is public or private enterprise. Note, also, that while Kenya banned wildlife cropping and consumption of game meat in 2003, the very facility to which our national heritage is destined had planned to offer exotic wildlife menus such as giraffe and lion meat. Although this plan has been rescinded, the proposal provides evidence of how far removed Thailand is from Kenya’s conservation values and policies.

  • Lastly, it is our responsibility to promote the growth of our national tourism industry. Support of the Chiang Mai Night Safari zoo will undermine inroads into the Far East Market, in which the Kenya Tourist Board has invested substantially. All the hard work may be lost because there is a strong likelihood of many international tourists who are attracted by our conservation values and policies shunning Kenya as a result of this export. This is unfortunate, because it has taken considerable human effort and financial resources to realise the resurgence of tourism in Kenya following many years of decline.

Finally, your Excellency, we would like to bring to your attention the fact that the Director of the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo, Mr. Plodprasop Suraswadi no longer sees any need for the animals from Kenya. He was quoted recently as saying “Even if the 175 animals are not sent to Thailand it won’t affect the zoo as we have enough animals already and the animals from Kenya are species that we already have.” (Thai Day, 23rd December 2005)

We therefore humbly call upon you to reconsider this deal.

We remain most respectfully,

The Undersigned,

Amboseli Tsavo Conflict Resolution Committee

Animal Outreach Society

Animal Protection Institute

Animal Voice of South Africa

Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights

Big Cat Rescue

Born Free Foundation Kenya

Born Free Foundation UK

Born Free Foundation USA

Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation

Bravo Bend Wildlife Sanctuary

Canadians for Furbearing Animals

Care for The Wild International

Catholic Concern for Animals

Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage

Compassion in World Farming (SA)

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Eastern Africa Environmental Network

Elephant Voices

Friends of the Asian Elephant

GAP Project - Brazil

Green Alive

Gorilla Haven

Humane Education Trust (SA)

Humane Society International

Humane Society of United States

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Kenya Wildlife Coalition

Kenya Wildlife Conservation and Management Network

Kipeto Landowners Association

Kitengela Landowners Association


NARC Youth Congress

National CBO Council

One Stop Youth Information Resource Center

Pastoralists Information Bureau

Pegasus Foundation

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Virgin Bush Safaris

Wildlife Friends of Thailand

Wildlife Rescue

World Society for the Protection of Animals

Youth Center for Biodiversity Conservation

Youth Environment Network Kenya

Youth for Conservation

Youth Link

Youth for Conservation
P.O. Box 27689
Nairobi 00506
Tel: +254 (02) 606479
Telefax: +254 (02) 606478
Mobile: +254 (0) 733 617286

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