4 RHINOS FALL TO POACHERS IN 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.