KWS installs tracking devices for elephants and rhinos in Maasai Mara

KWS, Narok County government have started a joint operation to install tracking devices on elephants and rhinos

Friday February 12 2016

Tourists watch a herd of wildebeest run through a field during the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Tourists watch a herd of wildebeest run through a field during the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. KWS rangers and the Narok County government have started a joint operation to install tracking devices on elephants and rhinos in the reserve. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers and the Narok County government have started a joint operation to install tracking devices on elephants and rhinos in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve amid growing concern over poaching.

The new effort is meant to protect the endangered species and help in research on movement of the wild animals.

Already, 10 elephants have been fitted with collars around their necks and tracking devices fixed on the horns of eight rhinos in the last three days.

Narok County KWS Chief Warden Collins Omondi said wildlife officers will now monitor the locations of the endangered species and track their movements to secure them from poachers.

Mr Omondi said data collected will be used in making decisions about wildlife conservation at the local and global levels.

Speaking to the Nation at his office at Ewuaso Ngiro Trading Centre, he said the exercise is a wildlife management tool meant to boost interventions by security personnel on the ground.

“Detailed real-time data on elephant movement is vital in conservation efforts, but without keeping an eye on these species and other wildlife species such data is seldom available,” said Mr Omondi.

The exercise is being undertaken by KWS veterinary officers, rangers and officers trained in animal husbandry.

The team is using a chopper to scare rhinos from the bushes before they are captured, sedated, ear-notched and marked within 10 minutes.

Maasai Mara Chief Warden James ole Kuyioni said that rhinos remain under risk from poachers and hence the joint commitment to ensure that they are protected.

He said that in future, the rhino-ranger ratio might be increased to 1:1 to ensure that poachers are dealt with accordingly.

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