SIX RHINOS KILLED IN KENYA AS SOUTH AFRICA’S POACHING TSUNAMI REACHES EAST AFRICA
(Posted 22nd February 2014)
‘There is nothing World Class about losing 6 rhinos in a week’ ranted a regular conservation source from Nairobi when passing the information that 6 rhinos were killed last week alone in Kenya. Lake Nakuru National Park, one of the main rhino sanctuaries, was just as affected as the Solio Game Reserve near Mweiga in Central Kenya with Ol Jogi also among those counting their losses. ‘KWS is in the media for all the wrong reasons again and it is high time that the Minister now appoints a new board under the new law and not let the old board still meddle in affairs. In fact, some say her dragging her feet is one of the reasons why criminals are exploiting this period of transition perhaps to poke holes in the defences of KWS because no organization can function 100 percent without a fully constituted board’.
Over 1.000 rhinos were killed last year in South Africa but the latest wave of killings in Kenya, unprecedented in such numbers, has rang the alarm bells among the conservation fraternity and raised surveillance and intelligence gathering to higher levels to prevent more such incidents.
Only two weeks earlier a rhino was brazenly killed in the Nairobi National Park, the horns hacked off and the poachers made a clean getaway, already then triggering questions for KWS over preparedness and effectiveness of their protective measures.
The news raised anger levels among conservationists, who had vested high hopes in the new deterrent fines and prison terms under the new wildlife law and calls are again emerging to introduce a shoot to kill policy for poachers and show them no mercy, even though this can be construed as extrajudicial killings.
It is yet to be seen how the new laws work in Kenya, and while the first ivory smuggling case resulted in the maximum fine of nearly 232.000 US Dollars for a Chinese man, subsequent cases inexplicably saw verdicts come in with only one million Kenya Shillings fine and, inspite of admitting additional offences, being let off the hook by a hapless magistrate, prompting immediate calls for a judicial enquiry.
Unconfirmed figures received from Nairobi speak of nearly 60 rhinos killed last year in Kenya for their horns, an alarming trend which if not halted may well wipe out the just over 1.000 rhinos in Kenya in just a few more years.