Kenya declares stockpile of ivory, rhino horns for 2022

Stockpiles of elephant and rhino horns at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters, April 2016. [James Mwangi, Standard]

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has declared the ivory and rhino horns in its possession as per the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cities). 

Through a gazette notice dated November 20, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua said that the country like all other signatories to cities is obligated to declare how it intends to destroy ivory and rhino horns. 

“In keeping with the demands of the Convention’s demand, Kenya like all other signatories to Cities, is obligated to declare how it intends to destroy the ivory and rhino horns, and in our case, this refers to a total of 20,737 pieces of elephant ivory weighing 98,753.35 kilograms, and 506 rhino horns weighing 1,125.75 kilograms,” said the CS. 

“Pursuant to section 83(3) of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, it is notified for public information following the audit of government trophies in the year 2022, the inventory of trophies as of December 31, 2022, is 20,737 pieces of elephant ivory weighing 98,753.35 kilos,” the gazette notice reads in part. 

Mutua further said that a comprehensive audit report and inventory are available for public scrutiny at the office of the Director General, Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters. 

Though Kenya has declared war on wildlife trafficking, it is still grappling with poaching.

According to a UN report, the proliferation of small arms in the region puts weapons in the hands of residents in areas with large wildlife populations, presenting a serious threat to wildlife security. These weapons are used for poaching and committing other crimes. 

Data indicates that in 2021, there were six confirmed cases of rhino poaching (one black rhino and five white rhinos), a disappointing increase in Kenya's zero reported rhino poaching incidents in 2020.

Nevertheless, this number remains lower than poaching levels the previous years. 

On the other hand, elephant poaching has fallen by 91 per cent due to effective wildlife conservation and anti-poaching efforts. Seven elephants were poached in 2020 down from 34 in 2019, and 80 in 2018. 

Under the 2014 law, parties involved in wildlife crime, at all levels - from financiers to poachers to traders now face higher fines and longer prison terms. Individuals caught at airports possessing prohibited wildlife like ivory, and rhino horns face fines of no less than Sh1 million). 

Last week, as part of this effort, two suspected poachers were nabbed while trying to sell three pieces of elephant tusks valued at Sh1 million in Lodwar, Turkana county.

At the time of the arrest by police officers with the assistance of KWS rangers, the two were found carrying tusks weighing 9.8 kilograms. 

A new report early this year showed that 906 kilograms of elephant ivory were confiscated from traffickers in the greater Amboseli last year.

However, the report noted that there was no elephant poached in the greater Amboseli last year, meaning that the confiscated ivory might have been from other areas or even countries. 

According to the report, during that period, ten jumbos died as a result of human-elephant conflict, 17 from natural causes, 13 from unknown but suspected to be natural causes, and three from human-related causes. All the ivory from jumbos that died was recovered while seven elephants were rescued.

The report said the situation is dire for the Eastern Black Rhino.

“Poachers have decimated the population, which plummeted from about 100,000 animals in 1960 to just over 6,000 in 2021,” read the report.