More rhinos fall to poaching in Lake Nakuru National Park


News are emerging from conservation sources in Nairobi that as many as four rhinos were found dead in Lake Nakuru National Park, their prized horns hacked off, as the pestilence of poaching has now swept from South Africa to East Africa. Nakuru is one of the national rhino reserves where both the Southern White and Eastern Black are concentrated for breeding and close up protection, or so it was thought.

These sad news come hot on the heels of a number of conflicting stories from Kenya, where on one hand successes against poachers highlight the new KWS CEO’s resolve to take the fight to these criminals but where at the same time reports about more poached elephant come in too week after week.

William Kiprono, appointed last year on the fast track by President Kibaki only days after former office holder Dr. Julius Kipng’etich’s resignation had been accepted, faced immediate challenges to his reign at the helm when the killing of an entire elephant family, young non tuskers included, was reported from Tsavo, in at least some quarters seen as the poachers testing his resolve and determination to step up the anti-poaching war.

Rhinos were targeted also on privately owned conservancies like Lewa Downs, Ol Pejeta and the Solio Reserve, leading to the establishment of a rapid deployment force by helicopter while, as reported here a few days ago, the first UAV, aka drone has been purchased and awaits deployment over the sprawling 90.000+ acres Ol Pejeta Conservancy in due course.

Welcome news over the weekend were the decision by the Kenyan government to add a further 200 million Kenya Shillings to the anti poaching efforts, giving KWS greater resources to stem and then turn the tide, but insider information has it that successes and setbacks will cancel each other out for some more time to come, until hundreds of more rangers have been trained and deployed. It is also understood that KWS at present still requires more funding to purchase and set up an operations centre for unmanned aerial vehicles, to gather intelligence on game and poacher’s movements and then deploy by air and ground to intercept the gangs before they can do any real damage.

Last year over 650 rhinos were poached in South Africa and as finally that government starts to understand the devastating impact on the country’s reputation abroad as well and the massive loss in terms of wildlife resources inside parks and reserves and acted more decisively, it seems that the international wildlife terrorists have now shifted their attention to East Africa, where, while protection could be considered adequate and strong under normal circumstances, they appear ill equipped to deal with such a commercial onslaught. Combined with almost useless laws – only last week did four Chinese found smuggling blood ivory get a fine of about 340 US Dollars and were let go – the fight against poaching will now require a major effort, including a Presidential Directive to use lethal means to and other available security resources available to the state, to begin defending Kenya’s prized wildlife more effectively.

More details are being sought at this time on the circumstances, the location of the poaching incident in Nakuru and if the killed animals were either of the Southern White or the even more endangered Eastern Black species, so watch this space for future updates.

8 Responses

  1. Sad news Wolfgang – much to close for comfort here at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. One aspect where you hit the nail on the head is the Presidential Directive that lethal force can be used. One of our major concerns is the repercussions we will face when a poacher is shot. We desperately need indemnity or at the very least, rock-steady support from the authorities that the ranger and the organization he works for can rely on (Rhino Fund Uganda in our case).
    Over the last 6 months we have had a serious upsurge of small-game poaching inside the sanctuary, simply because these commercial poachers have decimated everything in their areas. The demand for bush meat is ever increasing, coupled with the deteriorating socioeconomic aspects, to the extent that they will risk a lot to enter a security area to supply the demand.
    The fight goes on.

    1. You are hitting the nail on the head Johan. I too worry of the fall out should indeed a poacher have to be shot. The tide of rhino poaching is rising from South Africa and we need a clear regional solution with wildlife managers given the powers – to be used wisely I should add – to defend our region’s wildlife heritage at (literally) all cost. Only the harshest measures will serve as a deterrent, the present system of fines and jail terms as more an incentive for commercial poachers than holding any threat to them.
      Thanks for reading my blog.

  2. KWS must come clean on these increase cases of poaching of Elephants and Rhinos.How can KWS with all the resources at its disposal just remain helpless to the point where the fenced Nakuru National Park has been invaded by poachers unnoticed.Something is seriously wrong and therefore KWS urgently owes Kenyans and animal lovers all over the world some explanation on these failings in carrying out its core mandate of protecting our wild life.

  3. I have been to Nakuru over a dozen times and I have been leading small groups of wildlife/photographic enthusiasts to Kenya for the past 15 years. How much longer can the Kenyan government and Kenyan Wildlife Services complain about lack of funding and keep imploring the west for more money to stem the tide of outrageous poaching. My God – Nakuru is an urban game park. It has more KWS agents patrolling its tracks that anywhere else. The town of Nakuru abuts the park and yet four rhinos are poached. It is just ridiculous.

    I love Kenya and East Africa in general and I am sure my criticisms make me sound like a neocolonialist which I am not, but it is time to speak the truth. The Kenyan government lacks the will to put a stop to the poaching. Too much “kito kidogo” (bribery). Everyone is on the take. Richard Leaky – although an extremist – was right – shoot poachers on sight at least for a while.

    I have photographed those lost rhinos for years and they were beautiful with gigantic tusks. Again I ask – if you can’t even manage to defend your wildlife in an urban park what hope is there for game in more remote areas?

    The Kenyans have been successfully engaging the Somalis in a border war when no one else can – so it is obvious that they could stop poaching if the will and the honor was there.

    Thanks Jeff Sink