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IAfrica News Kenya Focus 

April 05 - 11, 2013

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

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CLICK ON PHOTOGRAPH TO SEE FULL SIZE IMAGE

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A breeder feeds a rothschild giraffe at the giraffe center in Nairobi , capital of Kenya . There are 10 rothschild giraffe individuals at the center that was founded in 1979. The rothschild giraffe is one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies with about 670 individuals remaining in the wild. Most of them living in the wild are in protected areas in Kenya and Uganda .  XINHUA PHOTO - MENG CHENGUANG

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Kenya to deploy one thousand rangers to beef up wildlife security

The East African nation says it’s at a point where it
cannot allow further poaching of wildlife because the
animal numbers have been reducing at an alarming rate

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NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said on Saturday it would deploy 1,000 more rangers to beef up wildlife security efforts to curb rising incidents of poaching across the East African nation.

Government spokesman Muthui Kariuki said the deployment of more rangers by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) will help in scaling up efforts to salvage the remaining elephants in Kenya , 74 elephants having already been killed in the first three months of 2013 alone. equipment to facilitate the security operations.

“KWS is modernising its force with the support of the government. We intend to fight poachers at all levels to save our elephants,” he said in the latest anti-poaching measures the East African nation has taken amid dwindling wildlife population.

The wildlife agency has enhanced the round-the-clock surveillance at all Kenya ’s entry exit and entry points while sniffer dogs and their handlers have proved incorruptible and have once again outsmarted the smugglers.

The East African nation says it’s at a point where it cannot allow further poaching of wildlife because the animal numbers have been reducing at an alarming rate.

Most recent statistics from the KWS for instance indicate that the number of elephants for instance has reduced from a high of 160,000 in 1970s to below 30,000.

KWS said between the 1970s and 1980s Kenya lost over 80 percent of her elephants, mainly due to intensive poaching of elephants for ivory.

Also affected are the Black Rhinos whose number declined from 20,000 in 1970 to current 577, putting it under the category of “critically endangered” animal.

Lion is also one of the most endangered animals not only in Kenya but across Africa . Kenya has an estimated 1,800 lions, down from 2,800 in 2002. The country had 30,000 lions in the 1960s, KWS data reveals.

Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012.

There have been fears that the illegal trade for the wildlife parts has led their being priced high making them attractive to transnational criminals who mostly prefer dealing in high value commodities.

Kariuki said the ranger force would be equipped with cutting edge training, noting however that lenient penalties by the Courts were major setbacks in the fight against poaching.

Kariuki called for a review of outdated wildlife laws, which he says should be replaced with stiffer penalties and jail terms.

“The government is concerned about this and has facilitated the process of reviewing the wildlife law and policy with a view to having more deterrent penalties and jail terms,” Kariuki said.

The government spokesman’s remarks come after a family of 10 elephants were killed in February by poachers in the Tsavo, posing a greatest blow to the war against poaching in the East African nation

Kariuki expressed hope that the 11th Parliament would give priority to a new wildlife policy also aimed at fighting poaching, adding that the Constitution has already placed progressive provisions on the protection of the environment including wildlife conservation.

He argued that outdated wildlife laws needed to be reviewed with a view of setting up stiffer penalties and jail terms noting that Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012.

The wildlife agency in March has announced plans to deploy a free software tool for rangers specifically designed to stop rising poaching in the East African nation.

The new Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool(SMART 1.0) was developed through a partnership of conservation organisations such as CITES-MIKE, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the North Carolina Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London.

The conservationists have decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant ivory, which they said, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.

The KWS on its part has 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.

SMART 1.0 is an innovative management tool designed to assist rangers on the ground to stop poachers in their tracks and curb the illegal trade of wildlife.

SMART is not owned by any one individual or organization; it’s free and available to the whole conservation community.

It’s also a combination of software, training materials, and implementation standards which provide protected area authorities and community groups with the ability to empower staff, boost motivation, increase efficiency, and promote credible and transparent monitoring of the effectiveness of anti-poaching efforts.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s Asian Species Expert, Barney Long said the new tool was crucial as traditional approaches to stopping poaching had failed.

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Kenyan and Tanzanian poachers
arrested in possession of ivory

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said two suspected poachers, a Tanzanian and his Kenyan accomplice have been arrested while in possession of six pieces of ivory weighing 43kilograms.

KWS said in a statement issued on Saturday that Emellian Shirima, Tanzanian, and Uchapa Mirie, Kenyan were arrested on Thursday in Taita Taveta in the coastal region.

“It is believed that the ivory was from a recent poaching incident in the area. KWS officials will prefer charges against the suspects for being in illegal possession, dealing with a government trophy and failing to make a report of being in its possession to authorities,” the statement said.

In February, two Tanzanians were arraigned in a Nairobi court after they were arrested with 16 pieces of ivory weighing 141 kilograms in Ongata Rongai Township on the outskirts of Nairobi .  A Tanzanian registered vehicle was impounded in the incident. 

Rampant poaching in Kenya has forced the wildlife agency to step up anti-poaching measures after experiencing a loss of 19 elephants since the beginning of 2012.

The East African nation is among countries in Africa where poaching is rampant despite the vice having been outlawed in the country in 1977.

Kenya is known for its great variety of wildlife, which includes elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, lions, cheetah and leopards. These animals are protected in national parks.

Meanwhile, KWS said two suspects were also arrested for being in possession of two pieces of elephant tusks weighing 7 kilograms in Kilifi County on Thursday.

The two, Jumaa Mulwa and David Fondo, were arraigned in court on Friday. 

KWS and other law enforcement agencies have intensified security operations and surveillance across the country to curb wildlife related crimes.

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