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iAfrica News Kenya Focus 

December 07 -13, 2012

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

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Poachers kill four rhinos in
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Africa’s rhinos are facing the worst poaching
crisis in decades with the most serious poaching
upsurges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya

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NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Poachers have killed four rhinos in the past week in a wildlife park in northern Kenya, dealing a major blow to conservation efforts in the East African nation.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy said the four rhinos were slaughtered by poachers, bringing the population of rhino on Lewa back down to 71 individuals, in a country where the population is slightly above 600 animals.

"These incidents serve as a contract reminder of the harsh reality and rapidly escalating threat faced by rhinos," said Mike Watson, Lewa’s CEO in a statement released on Wednesday.

"Lewa is now more than ever determined to counter these threats by increasing our security and monitoring efforts, reinforcing the important contribution that Lewa’s wildlife is making to local communities, and minimizing the risk posed to the remaining rhino population," Watson said.

Rhinotek, an 11-year-old rhinoceros was found dead at midday on Dec. 1.

The initial assessment did not give a clear indication of the cause of death but further veterinary examination established that the animal died from a bullet wound to the stomach.

According to Watson, Nyota, a 20 year-old female and Serian, a 7-year-old male were shot dead on Dec. 2 and another carcass, later on identified as Jazz, a male rhino was discovered later on Dec. 2.

"Three of the rhino horn sets were intact and have since been recovered for safekeeping.

"The poachers managed to remove the other set of horns," Watson said, describing the incidents as a devastating blow to conservation efforts and show the enormous pressure that these animals are under.

Africa’s rhinos are facing the worst poaching crisis in decades with the most serious poaching upsurges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Experts say although population figures for both black and white rhinos have increased since 2007, because of the increase in poaching, there is still grave concern for the rhino’s future.

The move comes after the wildlife agency expressed fears that the scenes of 1970s and 80s when poaching was a serious menace, and contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos are back, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal populations that had started to balloon.

Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) says the situation calls for a united approach that will not only facilitate the capture of those involved in wildlife crime, but also enhance prosecution of the illegal killing and trafficking of wildlife.

More than 1,000 rhinoceros, an all-time high, have been poached in the last three years, and current poaching of elephants is documented to be the highest since the 1980s.

The illegal poaching of wildlife for commercial purposes is also decimating many more species.

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