NAIROBI Kenya, Feb 27 – Some 59 rhinos were killed last year by poachers compared to 30 in 2012, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
However the number of elephants killed decreased to 302 last year against 384 in 2012. There are 38,000 elephants in the country and 1,030 rhinos.
KWS Spokesperson Paul Mbugua told Capital FM News poaching remains the greatest challenge in the sector, but noted that tough measures have been put in place to curb the vice.
“Countries that have elephants and rhinos are suffering the same fate. The only difference is how we react to the aspect of poaching,” he said.
“Kenya Wildlife Service maybe at the top of the organisations that is really combating poaching. Our country can be proud that we have lost fewer elephants compared to other states in the region.”
Among the measures put in place is the inter agency group consisting of various security bodies.
“We work very closely with the police, Kenya Airports Authority and intelligence arms of the government,” he said while noting that it has been extended to other countries within the region.
“Other countries are very crucial when it comes to pursuing individuals involved in the vice.”
All East African countries work under an umbrella body dubbed as Lusaka Agreement Taskforce in fighting the problem.
Due to the large area covered by wildlife, he appealed to the members of the public to join in the war to protect the country’s tourism sector.
“It is bad for Kenyans to allow individuals to benefit themselves by killing the wildlife. By so doing, the poachers are actually robbing themselves,” he lamented.
“Kenyans have a duty of protecting their heritage, we are just custodians. If wildlife goes, we can then forget the second foreign exchange earner and remember, Kenya has no monopoly of wildlife, it is still found in other countries. Tourist still have a place to go if we decimate our wildlife, we need to protect them.”
“The characteristics of poachers have changed, they have become more bold and aggressive, and they will stop at nothing to get at their target,” he pointed out.
“If you stand between them and the ivory or rhinos; they will kill you.”
Poachers have developed a well organised network and have their own ways of collecting intelligence, which he said may “include some of our staff.”
He said that five rangers were killed while undertaking their noble task to conserve wildlife.
In 2012 and 2013, more than 1,000 people were arrested for committing wildlife crimes.
A new report by INTERPOL on poaching recommended the need for greater information sharing to enable a more proactive and effective law enforcement response against trafficking syndicates.
The report for 2013 by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Unit, highlights the need for increased intelligence analysis in order to provide sound evidence for multiple count indictments where the trafficking is linked to fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
The Environmental Security Unit head, David Higgins says there is need of more integrated approach for a more effective response to poaching.
“Ivory seizures are clearly an important step in stopping this illicit trade, but this is just one part of a much bigger picture,” he pointed out during the launch of the report on Tuesday at the Canadian High Commissioner’s Residence in Nairobi.