New campaign to stop rhino poaching in Kenya
An new anti-poaching campaign is petitioning Chinese government to act against illegal ivory. The online campaign has attracted 11,427 signatures, but organisers need one million signatures to petition the Chinese government where most illegal ivory is exported to.
Killing of elephants and rhinos has increased recently, mostly in private ranches with the latest being a female rhino named Chebii in Ol Pejeta conservancy. “She left a four-month-old male calf,” said Richard Vigne, who manages the 90,000-acre ranch stretching from the Aberdares to Mount Kenya.
Rhinos are some of Kenya's most endangered animals and were was almost poached to extinction from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The numbers were rebounding before the recent wave of poaching. Vigne said once they get one million names he will present the petition to the Chinese Ambassador in Nairobi and take the campaign across Africa.
Images of Chebii's remains showed that poachers also removed her nipples and a piece of vulva, possibly for witchcraft. The campaign was launched on www.change.org, a popular online platform that lets people start their own campaigns. Past successful campaigns on the same platform forced the US government to support women in Saudi Arabia in their quest to be allowed to drive.
In Africa a recent campaign moved the South Africa government to act on “correctional rape” against lesbian women. The petition for anti-rhino and elephant poaching campaign can also be signed on the ranch website www.olpejetaconservancy.org. “We believe the war against poaching is going to be won when countries like China, which has the highest demand for rhino horn and ivory, will take steps to stop this illegal trade,” says Vigne on the petition.
He claims Africa losing an estimated 35,000 elephants a year to poachers. Ol Pejeta, which in 2004 was purchased by UK's conservation group Fauna and Flora International, has about 100 black rhinos and white rhinos. Other rhino killings took place last month in Nakuru and Laikipia where a black rhino and two white rhinos were killed.
Kenya Wildlife Service director Julius Kipng’etich said officers had identified some of the culprits and put in place measures to deter future poaching incidents. "We know who they are but they are on the run for now. Our officers are on the ground pursuing them," he said recently. The Kenyan law says all wild animals belong to the State, even if they are found in private farms.