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Joint exercise to count jumbos kicks off

By | February 8th 2011

By Renson Mnyamwezi

Taita-Taveta County

Kenya and Tanzania wildlife authorities have started a joint cross border aerial wild animals’ census.

The week-long exercise on the Tsavo and Mkomazi ecosystem is jointly funded by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw).

The exercise that started yesterday will cost more than Sh20 million.

KWS donated Sh11 million, Ifaw Sh7 million and the rest given by development partners.

Tourists catch a glimpse of elephants drinking water at Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge in Taita Taveta, Monday. A census on the animals started Monday. [PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD]

Patrick Omondi, Assistant Director and Head of Species Conservation and Management, and Ifaw Regional Director James Isiche, said the census would determine abundance and distribution of wildlife.

Speaking during the launch of the aerial exercise at Sarova Taita Hills in Mwatate, Taita-Taveta County, the two said the exercise would help monitor trends in wildlife numbers over time. The information, Mr Omondi noted, would be used in dealing with human-wildlife conflict and poaching, further research and securing migratory corridors in the large wildlife habitat.

It would also determine the spread of human activities within the parks and surrounding areas and identify threats to wildlife conservation in the conservation area, added Omondi.

"The census will help us in management and conservation, community mobilisation and awareness, ecosystem planning, species conservation and security planning, including patrol.

Lifted ban

Omondi said KWS was still opposed to the lifting of the ban on trade in ivory, adding legalising it would be unsustainable, as it would wipe out endangered wildlife species like elephants and rhinos.

"We have pressure from poaching activities and illegal firearms from our neighbouring countries and lifting of the ban on ivory trade will not be sustainable," he said.

He further said the Government was revising the proposed Wildlife Bill to provide for stiffer penalties for those found engaging in poaching activities.

Mr Isiche said Ifaw had focused on finding solutions to animal welfare and conservation challenges that provide lasting benefits for animals and people.

"We are partnering with KWS to fight armed poachers, keep livestock away and improve infrastructure in wildlife protected areas, as well as restock elephants in parks," he said.


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