Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pregnant white rhino killed by poachers in Kenya's Nairobi National Park

August 2013. A pregnant white rhino has been killed by poachers in the Nairobi National Park. Whilst hundreds of rhino have been killed across eastern and especially southern Africa this year, this particular piece of butchery is all the more shocking as it happened within a few miles of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) HQ on the edge of the Nairobi National Park. The KWS HQ sits on the edge of the park, and is bristling with staff and armed rangers (though as someone whose car was broken into whilst visiting KWS HQ perhaps this should be no surprise), and much of the park is fenced so it was thought to be a very secure place for the wildlife. However the demand for rhino horn in Asia has pushed the price so high that poachers are prepared to take more and more risks, and perhaps to pass on some of their illegal gains to others to turn a blind eye. That is not to say that most people at the KWS are not dedicated to protecting the wildlife, and it must be remembered that two rangers have already lost their lives this year at the hands of poachers, and another was shot just last week at Lake Nakuru (Another centre for rhino rescue previously thought secure). New
Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit In an effort to step up the fight against the poaching scourge, the Kenyan Government has formed a special inter-agency crack-unit to combat poaching in the country. The anti-poaching unit named the Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit comprises of security officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Administration Police (AP) and the General Service Unit (GSU). The special unit, which shall be under the command of KWS, will undergo a joint training at the KWS Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) at Manyani before deployment to poaching hotspot areas of Narok, Tsavo and Isiolo. The Government has committed to provide facilitation and equipment to support the Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit operations. The Government shall also deploy aerial surveillance support to enhance their capacity to deal with poaching incidents. The unit will be supported by the governments of Kenya, Unites States, China and the United Kingdom through their respective embassies in Nairobi. A total of 190 elephants and 34 rhinos have been killed so far this year while KWS has lost two rangers in encounters with poachers. However, plans are underway to recruit an additional 1000 KWs rangers to overcome these challenges and effectively tackle poaching. KWS has also adopted a multi-faceted approach to eliminate the poaching vice. The organization has actively engaged communities living next to wildlife sanctuaries through conservation education on the negative impacts of poaching. Consumers of illegal wildlife products, both local and international are being sensitized on their indirect contribution to poaching by buying such products. KWS also urges the Judiciary to mete out deterrent sentences to smugglers of wildlife products. Source: Wildlife Extra

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