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Poaching cases down by 90pc, survey shows

By Caroline Chebet | December 31st 2019 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Tourists admiring a herd of elephants at Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Taita Taveta County. [File, Standard]

Elephant and rhino poaching has reduced by 90 per cent in the last seven years, according to statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

A survey by KWS has revealed a steady decline in such cases between 2012 and 2018, with documented elephant poaching incidents declining from 384 to 38 in the period of study.

According to the survey, 302 elephants were poached in 2013. That reduced to 164 in 2014, 96 in 2015, 86 in 2016 and 80 in 2017.

KWS is however yet to release statistics for this year.

According to the data, 59 rhinos were poached in 2013. Save for this year when poaching intensified in the region, the trend had declined from 30 in 2012 to four cases in 2018.

In 2014, a slight increase was recorded, with 35 rhinos having been lost to poaching, while in 2015, the cases reduced to 11.

The numbers have since been drastically declining, with statistics revealing that 10 rhinos were lost to poaching in 2016 and nine in 2017.

“As a result, Kenya has been able to reduce the level of poaching of iconic species by over 90 per cent in the last six years,” a statement by KWS Director General John Waweru read.

The summary of poaching incidences comes a year after Kenya was delisted by global wildlife regulatory body, Cites, from list of eight countries whose reputation has been tarnished by poaching and illegal trade of ivory.

Currently, the elephant population stands at over 34,000 while the rhino population stands at over 1,000, placing Kenya as the fourth and third respective with the largest country populations in the world.

Despite the milestones in the conservation of elephants and rhinos, KWS noted that human-wildlife conflicts, bushmeat trade and commercial poaching remain a substantial threat to wildlife conservation in the country and the region.

Kenya is listed among key transit hubs for illicit consignments of wildlife and their products, mainly elephant ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales. KWS, however, noted that application of stringent and deterrent prison sentences, collaboration with Customs and other government agencies are some of the strategies used in the war against wildlife crime. 

In 2018, Kenya was delisted from eight countries notorious in poaching and illegal trade in ivory, alongside Uganda, Tanzania, China, Thailand and Philippines.

The milestones in conservation that helped reduce poaching cases, KWS noted, are attributed to multi-sectoral approaches and cross-border collaborations

“Regionally, cross-border collaboration with Tanzania has been in existence for over two decades. A similar collaboration with Uganda is also being strengthened to address trans-boundary crimes.

“Interpol and Lusaka Agreement Task Force are instrumental in facilitating, coordinating and offering support where crimes of international nature occur,” KWS added.

Incorporation of technology, strengthening specialised security units and capacity building with law enforcement personnel have also contributed to the decline in poaching.

Currently, the use of population census and fitting of transmitters and transponders to elephant and rhino individuals, ear notching of individual rhinos and use of aircraft for monitoring wildlife security surveillance are part of technologies being used to enhance wildlife security.

The milestones in conservation also come in a year when Kenya presented eight proposals, among them on elephants, pancake tortoise, giraffes, wedge fish, shark and teat fishes.

In a statement, KWS said all applications were successful, with big gains including rejection of proposed lifting of international ivory trade ban that had been made by four southern African countries.


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