The rhino is becoming too hot to keep
Posted Wednesday, May 12 2010 at 15:30
Protecting the endangered rhino is becoming an expensive business for the Kenya Wildlife Service which has to mobilise massive resources to protect the animal from poachers.
At Lake Nakuru National Park, which is a save haven for rhinos in the country; money used in protecting the animal has been overstretching the park’s budget.
“We are spending Sh690,000 per month on rhino protection,” Lydia Kisoyan, the park senior told Horizons.
The park spends another Sh300,000 on general surveillance — bringing the total sum of money spent on security to close to Sh1 million a month.
In the recent past, the KWS has stepped up its surveillance in rhino protection following increased cases of poaching in all game parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies where the large mammals are found.
The rhino is among the Big Five – topping the list of tourist attraction. Others are the lion, leopard, buffalo, and elephant. As the biggest rhino sanctuary in the country, Lake Nakuru National Park has become the target for poachers keen on making easy riches.
What makes it easy for poachers, who kill the rhino for its horn, to get to the park is because the facility is surrounded by human settlement.
Though not scientifically proved, there is a belief that the rhino horn powder has an aphrodisiac effects. Aphrodisiac is a drug that enhances sexual performance.
Joseph Dadacha, the Nakuru National Park deputy warden does not believe the theory but he says horns are allegedly used to manufacture sex enhancement drugs in Asia.
They are mainly exported to China or Japan where they sell at exorbitant prices.
“There is no proof that rhino horn powder enhances sexual performance but poachers continue to kill these animals, depleting their population in most game reserves, forests and national parks,” he explains.
Poachers sell a kilogramme of the horn at Sh500,000 while the middlemen who transport to exit points trade the same amount for Sh1 million.
The price more than triples when its gets to the Asian countries where it is dried and ground before being sold in powder form as an aphrodisiac with the manufacturers making a kill out of the illegal trade.
This is a lucrative trade as one horn weighs about seven kilograms which translates to Sh3.5 million for the poacher while penalties are very lenient.
Mr Dadacha blames inadequate penalties against poaching for the continued game hunting.
The offenders are jailed for a maximum of five years or fined a small amount of between Sh20,000 and Sh50,000.