, NAIROBI Kenya, Sep16 – The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) now says the country’s elephant population is on the rise, contrary to statements being made by conservationists.
KWS Deputy Director in charge of Wildlife Conservation Patrick Omondi says Kenya’s jumbo population currently stands at 38,000 which is an increase from 34,000 recorded five years ago.
Omondi says the elephant population is growing at a rate of two percent annually and they are targeting to achieve a four percent growth per annum.
Conservationists have recently raised alarm over a dwindling elephant population due to increasing cases of poaching. Some activists are even predicting that Kenya will not have a single elephant left in the next 10 years.
But KWS has disputed that assertion, and is now accusing the conservationists of distorting facts.
“Kenya has the fourth largest population of elephants in the world and is growing at a rate of two percent per annum. We hope to attain a four percent annual growth rate of this species in the near future to attain a cumulative total of 50,000 elephants,” said Omondi.
He, however, singled out incursion of livestock into the Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) as a great challenge to wildlife conservation, saying this put the security of wildlife to risk besides being a source of human-wildlife conflict.
Omondi said KWS has invested heavily in ensuring reliable water supply to the wildlife in the area to guard against their migration to other areas.
He also says KWS is sensitizing the public on the dangers of consuming bush meat and other wildlife products, singling out the false belief that rhino horn has medicinal value.
In a statement to newsrooms, KWS Director William Kiprono said that they have embraced devolution and directed field officers to work closely with county governments and security organs with a view of ensuring wildlife is safe in both protected and unprotected areas systems.
He has challenged the officers to articulate issues of wildlife conservation in their respective counties to create awareness among the public.
Kiprono has also asked those giving out wildlife figures to disseminate accurate information regarding wildlife conservation in the country to avoid sending wrong signals about the actual number of critical species and their welfare.
Kiprono says KWS employees will remain focused and committed to realizing its vision of protecting the last great species and places on earth for humanity.
The government is faced with a major challenge of poaching mainly targeting elephants and rhinos, sparking fears of a possible annihilation in the near future.
On September 9, three suspected poachers were gunned down in a rhino sanctuary in Tsavo West National Park.
This happened after they defied orders to surrender and instead fired at KWS rangers who had laid an ambush. One of the suspects is believed to have escaped with injuries according to the KWS officials.