Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Poaching levels not alarming, says KWS

By Eunice Kilonzo @eunicekkilonzo Ekilonzo@ke.nationmedia.com

Animal numbers are healthy in the game parks, according to the agency entrusted with their security.

Poachers have killed 18 rhinos and 51 elephants for their ivory and horns respectively, since the year begun.

Conservation groups have heaped the blame on the Kenya Wildlife Service, and called out on the President to declare poaching a national disaster.

But KWS on Tuesday downplayed the increasing cases of poaching.

Addressing the Press at KWS headquarters on the status of wildlife conservation, the team led by Mr William Kiprono, the acting director-general was at pains to explain the state of affairs.

“Unlike what has been reported, poaching has not yet reached alarming rates for it to be declared a national disaster. Our wildlife numbers are healthy according to international standards. So, I plead with Kenyans and other stakeholders to disregard suggestions that the numbers of our animals are diminishing... If the statistics have not been issued from us, they are unreliable,” Mr Kiprono said.

He praised the recently passed Wildlife Conservation and Management Law 2013, saying it sealed loopholes that Kenya experienced in the past decades.

He noted that circumstances have changed over the years. “Poaching now is more organised, sophisticated and international in nature. Poachers are using top notch weaponry and silent methods that are difficult for rangers on patrol to detect.”

Put to task to elaborate measures in place to mitigate further poaching, deputy director Patrick Omondi noted:

“We are vigilant and continue to protect our wildlife but under a myriad of challenges, principally insufficient human and technological capacity. Once we get necessary support and advanced technology we will match the poachers.”

The impact of climate change was also cited as a factor that precipitated poaching.

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