(Xinhua) -- Kenya is planning to lobby
the African Union to enhance its war against the poaching menace
as the continent’s wildlife heritage is under constant threat
from human activities, the country’s wildlife authority said on
will therefore lobby with the AU to include the poaching
menace in its agenda as a way of fighting wildlife destruction
in the continent,” Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director
William Kiprono said during celebrations to honor Kenya’s
fallen wildlife conservation heroes.
Since the formation of KWS, the
force has lost 61 rangers to poachers. Earlier this year, 13
Kenyan wildlife rangers were honored by the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and
advocacy will also be escalated to the international arena by
targeting countries where the consumption of wildlife products
is rampant,” he said.
Kenya is among countries in
Africa where poaching is rampant despite the vice having been
outlawed in the country in 1977.
Poachers target especially rhinos
and elephants for their tusks and skins, which fetch a lot of
money in the black market particularly in Asia.
Kiprono said the conservation
challenge will never diminish, noting that with the increase in
human population, high pricing of wildlife trophies such as the
rhino horn and elephant tusks in the black market, pressure on
land use, diminishing space for wildlife, climate change,
encroachment by invasive species, the destruction of wildlife
habitats, and the challenges were expected to increase
He said to tackle these
challenges effectively called for additional funding and
collaboration with other agencies.
Additional rangers had been
recruited to beef up security while staff efficiency had been
improved through purchase of appropriate tools such as
aircrafts, vehicles and firearms, he said. As part of the
anti-poaching campaign, awareness and education materials would
be made available in the common languages of the consuming
countries, he added.
commitment to protect all great species and places on earth for
humanity remains intact,” he said. The director said that
Kenya’s resolve to fight wildlife crime is unbowed.
me warn those behind wildlife criminal activities that cost
our officers lives, that their days are numbered,” he said.
The east African nation has
already created a multi agency anti- poaching crack unit, which
has been deployed in the poaching hotspots. The Treasury has
already allocated 2.31 million U.S. dollars for the operations
of the unit.
KWS said that so far in 2013,
Kenya has lost 274 elephants to poachers compared to the 384
elephants that were lost last year.
To address the problems, he said,
KWS was seeking support from all corners including other
security agencies, the local communities and non governmental
He called upon NGOs and activists
to exercise restraint and be honest when disseminating
information on elephant populations to avoid misleading
Kiprono said KWS looked back at
the ending year with pride, listing a number of achievements.
He said that the government has
already received provisional results for the joint
Kenya-Tanzania census for elephants and other large mammals.
Kiprono noted that efforts to
rein in criminal gangs engaged in illegal trade of contraband
wildlife will be enhanced once the Wildlife Forensic and Genetic
Laboratory is operational.
The director said that there is a
baby boom among Kenya’s wildlife population. “Records indicate
that 95 rhinos were born in 2013,” he said.
KWS Chairman David Mwiraria said
that his organization carried out a major translocation of
wildlife with a view to decongesting areas where the population
was aimed at reducing the burden on the ecosystem in the
wildlife habitats,” he said.
Ministry of Natural Resources
Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe said that Kenya’s wildlife
sector is suffering from the negative effects of climate change.
Lesiyampe said that prolonged
drought and habitat degradation has resulted in wildlife loss.
He said that Kenya is in the process of developing the country’s
first National Wildlife Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
completed in 2014, it will enable wildlife resources managers
to take appropriate actions towards sustaining our
ecosystems,” he said.
Wildlife Cabinet Secretary
Professor Judy Wakhungu said that the tourism industry is the
second largest sector in Kenya’s economy after agriculture. “In
fact, it accounts for 12 percent of Gross Domestic Product and
21 percent of total foreign exchange earnings,” she said.
She noted that the government has
made a commitment to stamp out poaching so as to secure wildlife
species for prosperity.
According to the Wakhungu, the
wildlife security threat is a global phenomenon that is driven
by high demand for ivory and rhino horn.
She added that the National
Assembly has already approved the Wildlife Bill which proposes
stiffer penalties for wildlife crimes.