, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 11 – The Kenya Wildlife Service has assured the country that the fight against illegal trade in ivory has been intensified but noted the number of elephants killed was still high.
Last year the country lost 384 elephants, an increase from 289 in 2011 and as per last week, 162 elephants had been killed this year.
Speaking to Capital FM News, Kenya Wildlife Service Spokesman Paul Mbugua said the recent intercepted ivory was from neighbouring nations and was in transit to other countries.
He said Kenya was a transit country because of the port of Mombasa but noted that stiff measures have been deployed to stop the trend.
“We have stepped up our system of surveillance and of course we are working closely with the Kenya Revenue Authority to ensure that every consignment that passes through the port is cleaned and those consignments that are found to be contraband are intercepted,” he said.
“Most of the consignments intercepted in the country are only repackaged here in the country. We are going to use DNA technology to establish from what population is the ivory coming from; whether from the country elephant population or other countries.”
“All the shipments from the landlocked countries within East Africa pass through the port of Mombasa,” he noted.
Mbugua also revealed that a meeting held in Bangkok in March 2013, Thailand on poaching, grouped Kenya in a cluster of 7 other countries ‘in a dishonourable group labelled the Gang of 8’.
“Kenya was considered a source and a transit country. All these countries in this group were required to come up with an action plan that will ensure contraband do not pass through their ports,” he explained.
He said Kenya had already presented its action plan, noting it is has proved effective with the latest interceptions of the ivory in the country.
Mbugua said they were embarking on an awareness programme even to the countries the ivory is being taken. “Most of the citizens of these countries think ivory is harvested from an elephant that continues to live. They do not know an elephant has to die.”
“We want people to know that ivory belongs to elephant and that is why we do not have it in our heads.”
He said the fight was set to be intensified once the Wildlife Bill becomes law which has already been approved by the Cabinet waiting approval by Parliament.
“The challenge we have been having with the current law signed in 1976, provided a fine of Sh5,000 which sounded stiff during those days.”
Mbugua noted that the total revenue collected in the tourism sector, 80 percent comes from wildlife. “Remove wildlife and forget tourism in this country. When it comes to forex earning, tourism is the leading earner in the country.”