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 Monday.
“We 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 Flora.
“The 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 tremendously.
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.
“Our 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.
“Let 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. More....