Kenya and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) on Monday launched a unique partnership designed to help protect elephants and curb rampant poaching in the country.
Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Judi Wakhungu, who witnessed the signing of the deal between IFAW and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), vowed to step up the fight against poaching menace.
"Kenya is determined to protect our elephants. We will do everything in our power to destroy the poaching networks and we are proud to be involved in this innovative pilot project," Wakhungu said.
Launched in Nairobi, The tenBoma project, aims to protect elephants by stopping poaching. It takes its name from an existing Kenyan community policing philosophy called "Nyumba Kumi" in Swahili or "Ten Houses'.
The initiative expands that same philosophy to include Kenya's national parks and surrounding areas to form a network to protect wildlife and communities from criminal poaching gangs.
KWS Acting Director Generao William Kiprono said the partnership is crucial to the KWS. "Too often our officers are confronted with the carcasses of elephants and are battling to solve the crime after it happens. This project could ensure that we have the intelligence we need to strike first."
He said the first stage of the tenBoma project will ensure that KWS rangers have the equipment and training they need to collect valuable data.
The next phase will integrate a collaborative geospatial monitoring platform to marry data collection with targeted analysis and dissemination of information to identify poaching associated indicators
In 2013, Kenya lost 302 elephants, and in 2014, only 150 elephants were killed by poachers, according to KWS statistics.
IFAW's tenBoma project builds upon lessons learned and experience gained from successfully applying network targeting analysis and information sharing principals to support counter- terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.
IFAW's CEO Azzedine Downes said focus has been on monitoring species and products for too long and not enough attention has been given to the networks that drive the illicit trade, and tenBoma seeks to fill this gap.
"Over a relatively short period of time, we will be able to determine if there are patterns that will help to ensure that the KWS have enforcement officers deployed to the right area at the right time -- effectively heading off poaching incidents," he said.