NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – Less cases of poaching have been recorded this year with 67 elephants having been killed compared to 96 last year.
The number of rhinos killed has also reduced to six this year compared to 11 in 2015.
Despite the implementation of tough rules and penalties by countries particularly those widely challenged by poaching, new demand from emerging markets continue to threaten Africa’s elephants and rhinos.
In the last three years over 100,000 elephants have been killed across Africa to supply ivory to illegal markets with proceeds from the trade used to support criminal activity that include armed conflict and terrorism.
In an interview with Capital FM News, KWS Spokesman Paul Gathitu attributed the decline in poaching cases to inter-agency and regional collaboration among other efforts used in combating wildlife crime.
“It’s good to note that there is progress in the fight against poaching owing to the tough laws and penalties put in place,” said Gathitu.
Of the wildlife crime cases reported this year, 55 have been concluded while 243 cases are ongoing due to pending evidence.
“These cases have to be properly tackled; evidence checked which is time consuming ,” stated Gathitu, “So far we have had good successes and happy on how things are going in handling of cases.”
The areas affected by poaching are the Laikipia and Ol Pejeta Conservancies and the Tsavo East National Park.
One of the approaches made by the KWS and conservationist is that of educating communities especially those living next to conservancies on positive co-existence with the wild.
“We have ensured that our laws and regulations are tight and are as deterrent to make wildlife conservation everybody’s business in Kenya,” said Gathitu. “We are seeing that there is interests and concern across board, so this is another element that is important.”
Gathitu noted that the recruitment exercise for rangers in the past years have been a success with many being deployed in the affected regions as well improving surveillance.
“Wildlife crimes have evolved with the involvement of international cartels thus the need to put in policies and legislation that is able to capture all aspects of the vice,” he said.
Other species facing extinction are the lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and owls due to human interference with the ecosystem.
Speaking in the just concluded conference on Wildlife and Law enforcement institutions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Vice President for Species Conservation at AWF Dr Philip Muruthi observed that combating wildlife crime entails inter-agency and regional collaboration among other efforts.
“Such partnerships enhance efficiency in illegal wildlife products interceptions at airports, seaports and border points, it also strengthens wildlife crime prosecutions, and enables the application of law enforcement in the major landscapes,” said Dr Muruthi.
Present during the deliberations was the Regional Director IFAW East Africa James Isiche who stated, “Proper case management and punitive sentencing for wildlife crimes is a critical component in the arrest, investigations, judicial process and sentencing of wildlife criminals.”
So what measures will be put in place to ensure a further reduction to wildlife crimes?
To ensure a further reduction in wildlife crimes in 2017, Gathitu stated that programs such as Species Conservation Programs will be implemented to protect other endangered species as well engaging with communities living close to parks, reserves and conservancies highlighting the dangers and impacts of poaching,” Gathitu noted.
The use of technology in addressing wildlife crimes will also be intensified with rangers expected to undergo training on the use of SMART gadgets.