By roping in China and the US in the protection of wildlife, the Government is undertaking a pragmatic approach to fight poaching.
The menace, threatening to wipe out Kenya’s heritage needs a multi-pronged approach, seeing that wildlife trafficking has become lucrative, more widespread and organised. For instance, there is high demand for elephant trophies and rhino horns in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam where the affluent use them to make ornaments. A campaign to dissuade the market against buying the animal-made decorations should be initiated in such countries.
Indeed, it is insensitive to eat using chopsticks made from ivory and beats the logic of protecting the habitat. By killing the wildlife indiscriminately, we destroy the ecosystem and pose grave consequences for future generations.
Besides being part of a huge attraction for tourists, our wildlife forms part of our heritage, which should be protected at all costs. It is a heritage we should guard jealously and bequeath it to the next generation as intact as possible.
The Environment Ministry, the Kenya Wildlife Service and other arms of government must step up the game to protect the endangered species, facing increased poaching. That some 35 rhinos have been killed this year alone and 385 elephants were downed last year should set off the alarm bell for all stakeholders, including communities living around the game reserves.
But even more worrying is a report carried in this newspaper of how a group of poachers confidently strolled into one of Kenya’s most protected parks and killed a rhino. Posing as park visitors, the poachers shot and killed the rhino in an open space and should have been spotted easily.
But they went on unperturbed, making way with its horn and left the carcass to the scavengers. This brash incident seemed to send a coded message to the KWS and the authorities that the poachers mean business and they are untouchable, seeing that they can strike anywhere they want and at any time of the day.
The poachers have also acquired sophisticated weapons, which calls for a well-equipped unit to survey the parks. Constant education for neighbouring communities on the importance of wildlife is also critical, as is resolving the perennial human-wildlife conflicts.
It is indeed reprehensible that the Maasai continue taking out lions for killing their cattle, since they believe that once the canine has tasted a cow’s meat, it will keep on coming back for more. Such love-hate relationships with the wildlife need not be the case in this day and age.