Kenya applauds anti-poaching efforts in first wildlife census | Voice of America
Kenya has lauded its efforts to crack down on poaching by releasing the results of the country’s first-ever national wildlife census, calling the survey a vital weapon in its battle for conservation.
According to the census released Monday evening, the country has a total of 36,280 elephants, a 12% jump from the figures recorded in 2014, when poaching activity was at its highest.
“Efforts to increase penalties for crimes related to endangered species appear to be bearing fruit,” said the report, which numbered 30 animal species and covered nearly 59% of Kenya’s land mass.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned in March that poaching and habitat destruction, especially due to land conversion for agriculture, was devastating elephant numbers across Africa.
The African savannah elephant population has plunged by at least 60% over the past half century, resulting in their being reclassified as “endangered” in the latest update of the “Red List” of the IUCN endangered species.
The census indicated that the number of lions, zebras, hirolas (hunting antelopes) and the three species of giraffes found in the country had also increased, but did not provide comparative figures from previous years.
The state-funded investigation counted 1,739 rhinos, including two northern white rhinos, 897 critically endangered black rhinos and 840 southern white rhinos, and said the Maasai Mara National Reserve was home to nearly 40,000 wildebeest.
“Obtaining this level of information (…) allows for better policy, better planning and better assessment of areas that require special attention in our interventions to maintain or improve our national conservation efforts,” said Minister of Wildlife Najib Balala in the report.
President Uhuru Kenyatta applauded conservation agencies for successfully tackling poaching and urged them to find new, inventive approaches to protect wildlife.
“The reduction in losses in terms of elephants, rhinos and other endangered species is due to the excellent work that KWS [Kenya Wildlife Service], his officers and his men are doing, “he said Monday evening.
“The legacy of our children”
Special attention should be paid to antelope species such as sand antelopes and mountain bongos which already number less than 100 each, the report said, warning they could become extinct unless urgent action is taken. are taken.
The exponential growth of the human population and the concomitant increase in demand for land for settlement as well as activities such as cattle raids, logging and charcoal burning threaten to dampen recent gains, he added.
Kenya, like many of its African peers, is trying to strike a balance between protecting its wildlife and dealing with the dangers it poses when it attacks human settlements in search of food and water.
“[Wildlife] is our legacy, it is the legacy of our children and it is important for us to be able to know what we have in order to be better informed on the policies and also on the actions needed as we move forward ”, said Kenyatta.
“It is a national heritage, it is something that we must wear with pride,” he added.