Close

ICONIC SPECIES

How giraffes are poached for bushmeat

Conservationists are worried about the future of giraffes in the country.

In Summary
  • A beam of light is switched on to blind the animals before the are attacked.
  • Rangers find only the skin and bones the next day.
Three suspects nabbed with bushmeat
POACHING: Three suspects nabbed with bushmeat
Image: COURTESY:

Poachers blind giraffes with beams of light within the Amboseli ecosystem before cutting their tendons using machetes, conservationists say.

Rangers find only the skin and bones the next day.

Conservationists are now worried about the future of giraffes in the country.

“This was the third giraffe poached in one week in May. This is not normal. Only four giraffes were poached through the whole of 2017. In 2019, which we consider to have been a very bad year for bushmeat poaching, we lost 16 giraffes. If the current rate of killing persists, we will lose 10 times as many this year,” Nick Brandt and Richard Bonham, founders of Big Life Foundation, said.

Big Life was co-founded in September 2010 by photographer Brandt, award-winning conservationist Bonham and entrepreneur Tom Hill.

They said giraffes were not the only species targeted.

 
 

“Snares are indiscriminate killers, cheap and easy to deploy. Our rangers have destroyed 47 of these horribly simple devices during the month of May alone. Beyond our core operating area, our intelligence network is picking up reports of increased poaching all around. Everything suggests that an avalanche may be coming our way.”

Poaching for bush meat has added to the challenges facing the tourism sector following the outbreak of Covid-19.

 

During the World Giraffe Day on June 21, Tourism CS Najib Balala said the government would use all means to protect giraffes and allow their population to grow.

Balala said out of the four species of the animal, three are found in Kenya.

These are the reticulated giraffe also known as the Somali giraffe (15,524), Rothschild’s giraffe (609) and the Masai giraffe (12,717).

“This animal is beautiful. Unfortunately, we have slightly above 100,000 giraffes in the world. In Kenya, we have about 29,000 giraffes,” Balala said at Nairobi National Park.

The species' specimens are traded internationally and have declined by 36 to 40 per cent over the past three decades due to habitat loss and other pressures.

On August 22 last year, the species was given more protection under laws protecting iconic species.

The enhanced protection was among resolutions passed at the 18th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES CoP 18).

Giraffe is now listed on CITES Appendix II.

The appendix includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction but in which trade must be controlled to avoid excessive utilisation.

Brandt and Bonham said commercial bushmeat industry is the real threat.

Big Life now has over 300 rangers working in 42 units across the greater Amboseli ecosystem.

On Tuesday, Kenya Wildlife Service director general John Waweru said drones will be deployed before the end of the next financial year.

“We will also make use of the force to secure species. However, they cannot cover the entire park,” he said.

Waweru made his remarks during a webinar on the impact of Covid-19 on wildlife conservation in the East Africa Community.

Edited by Henry Makori