Tag Archives: smuggling ivory

Kenya Set to Launch Anti-Poaching Unit to Save Wildlife

Xinhua

August 5, 2013
The Kenyan government has formed an inter-agency elite unit to fight rampant poaching across the East African nation, officials confirmed on Monday.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Mbugua said the 120- member anti-poaching squad consisting personnel drawn from various government agencies will be unveiled by the Environment, Water and Natural Resources Cabinet secretary Professor Judi Wakhungu on Thursday.

“The government has formed an inter-agency elite crack unit to fight poaching. The unit will be launched possiblyon Thursday to help boost fight against poaching in frontline  areas which have been affected by poaching such as Tsavo,” Mbugua told Xinhua by telephone on Monday.

The move comes after the anti-poaching campaign “Hands off our Elephants” emphasizing conserving elephant for posterity carried out by government and conservationists.

According to statistics from the KWS, elephant poaching has grown consistently over the last three years during which 829 elephants were killed. Last year, Kenya lost 384 elephants to poachers compared to 278 in 2011 and 177 in 2010. The rest is estimated to be eliminated in the next 10 years unless stronger counter-poaching measures are taken.

Conservationists say rising demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia is the main reason causing the poaching crisis across Africa, as the continent has witnessed loss of over 1,000 rhinos in the last 18 months.

Kenya has been identified as one of the leading transit routes for smuggling ivory out of Africa. KWS estimates that more than eight tones of raw and worked ivory have been seized since 2009.

The East African nation has also lost 21 rhinos and 117 elephants to poachers since the beginning of 2013. Out of these elephants, the spokesman said, 37 were killed in protected areas while 80 were outside protected areas.

Mbugua believed “The anti-poaching crack unit will be a big plus for KWS since it will help boost our fight against poachers.”

Campaign launched to fight poaching

ELEPHANTS could be extinct in the near future if poaching is not contained, conservationists have said. Wildlifedirect CEO Paula Kahumbu yesterday said the escalating trend of elephant poaching in the country is worrying and urged the government to intensify their security.

“We are seeing a trend where elephants could be extinct in the near future,” Kahumbu said. She was speaking during the launch of “Hands off our elephants” campaign in a Nairobi hotel.

This comes hours after former US defence attaché in Nairobi David McNevin was convicted of smuggling ivory. McNevin was arrested late last month at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport with 21 pieces of carved elephant tusks as he boarded a flight to the Netherlands.

Kahumbu said such cases will end when relevant authorities and Kenyans unite to fight poaching. Paula, who is spearheading the campaign to sensitive Kenyans on the importance of protecting elephants, said it is worrying that poachers are driving the animals to extinction.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said the government is committed to ending the poaching menace.
Speaking during the event, Wakhungu said the ministry will introduce scanners and sniffer dogs in all border points, especially in Mombasa.

She said the Wildlife Bill, which advocates for hefty penalties, has been printed and is ready to be tabled in Parliament. “Poaching will become an economic crime once the Bill is passed,” she said.

Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni said the air carrier will not allow any of its plane to ferry ivory. “We will not tolerate any worker found colluding with ivory smugglers,” he said.

“The economy of this country depends on tourism and it will be suicidal if we allow poaching to continue.” Vision 2030 director Mugo Kibati said their aim is to increase number of tourists to three million by 2017.

“Many tourists come to see the elephants. If they are all poached, tourists will not come here anymore,” he said. Kenya Wildlife Service director William Kiprono said they will employ an additional 1,000 rangers to help fight poaching.

He said KWS is working with all security organs to curb the menace. “These poachers are not from the sky. They are in our midst,” he said. “We need information from the public.” Kiprono said Kenya has remained a transit point because of weak laws.

This article appears on this link: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-129414/campaign-launched-fight-poaching