Friday, Oct 31st 2014

Poaching of rhinos doubles, says KWS

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY SAM KIPLAGAT
Poached rhino. Photo/COURTESY/Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Poached rhino. Photo/COURTESY/Ol Pejeta Conservancy

THE number of rhinos poached has hit a new high with reports of killings in the Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya's main rhino sanctuary. Data released by the Kenya Wildlife Service indicate that so far, 11 rhinos have been killed this year.

Last year alone, some 59 rhinos were killed. The number was close to double the number of rhinos killed the previous year. In 2011, KWS recorded 29 rhino killings.

The latest killing occurred Thursday at the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve where a male black rhino was poached and its horns hacked away.

And before the Narok killing, one rhino had been poached at the Lake Nakuru National Park, one of the protected rhino sanctuaries in the country. The killing at the park, which is also famed for its flamingos, brings to six the number of rhinos killed in the park this year.

The poachers allegedly evaded ambushes laid by KWS rangers along the way. Other rhinos have been felled in Solio Game Reserve near Mweiga, Nairobi, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Ol jogi.

According to the KWS acting director William Kiprono, poachers have become sophisticated and they were employing a multi-pronged approach to stem the rise. He said that KWS was doing a re-organisation among its officers as well as increasing intelligence gathering.

Reports indicate that rhino poaching has doubled in the last one year. Interpol also says that Kenya is now number one in the world for trafficking of ivory.

Over 13 tonnes of ivory were seized in Kenya last year. This is from over 130 elephants and the seizure is believed to represent less than 10% of the ivory trafficked through Kenya.

Kenya has, however, responded positively to the crisis by enacting the new Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, which has stiffer penalties for offenders. The Act came into force in January.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, has also boosted the efforts to check the vice by setting up a fully-fledged Wildlife Crimes Prosecution Unit.