Kenya poaching crisis a 'national disaster'

A bull elephant forages in the evening light on August 7, 2014 at the Ol Jogi rhino sanctuary, in the Laikipia county, north of
A bull elephant forages in the evening light on August 7, 2014 at the Ol Jogi rhino sanctuary, in the Laikipia county, north of Nairobi

Kenya's government was under renewed pressure Friday to declare a "national disaster" because of the rampant slaughter of elephant and rhino.

Two major newspapers dismissed wildlife authority claims everything was under control.

Conservation groups have repeatedly said the state-run Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is losing the fight against poachers and the organised crime bosses that pay them, and that the country's famed wildlife—key to the country's vital tourism economy—is on a fast track to destruction.

In an rare common call, top newspapers said more action had to be taken and they accused the KWS of sleeping on the job and trying to cover up the real extent of the poaching problem.

"Poaching is a national disaster," The Standard newspaper said in its editorial. "KWS is being economical with the truth when it argues that poaching is not an immediate danger."

"Those charged with preserving game must come out of their lethargy and realise that if it takes limiting access to our to preserve endangered species for posterity, losing revenue from tourism for a while will be a small price to pay for a long-term gain."

The Daily Nation newspaper said the ministry's downplaying of the "brazen slaughter" was a "big surprise."

"Officials cannot afford to pretend that the threat is not grave enough and let the poaching menace spiral out of control," the Nation said.

A campaign group, Kenyans United Against Poaching (KUAPO), have gathered over 20,000 signatures in plea to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to "declare poaching a national disaster."

But the environment ministry and KWS, in report to lawmakers this week, insisted "Kenya is yet to reach such a critical stage", and that calling the crisis a "disaster" would only scare off tourists.

Instead, the ministry has asked lawmakers to toughen existing anti- laws.

Poachers slaughtered double the number of Kenyan rhinos in 2013 than the year before. Nearly a hundred elephants have been killed this year, according to official figures, but conservations say they believe the figure to be far higher.

On the Asian black market, rhino horn is sought after as an ingredient in traditional medicine and can be more expensive than the equivalent weight in gold. Ivory from elephants is also sought out for jewellery and decorative objects.

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Kenya insists fight against poachers not lost

© 2014 AFP

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Sep 05, 2014
Too bad the author didn't take the opportunity to propose allowing people to own the elephants, rather than the government. Then the poachers (often and typically those employed to guard the government, or as the article states - organized criminals who bribe the government officials) wouldn't be guarding the elephants. And instead those who owned the elephants (often on lands where the land owners offer safaris for income) would be protecting them.

Sep 05, 2014
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Sep 05, 2014
Why not start a rumor that poacher teeth are a powerful aphrodisiac? Allow open season on anyone attempting to poach these animals.... seriously in a country of starving people they kill huge animals only to take tusks and let the meat rot. It's not just criminal, its insane. I for one would love to watch some wild animals eat a renowned poacher alive.

Sep 05, 2014
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Sep 05, 2014
This is not rocket science here people.
If the poachers shoot animals they will become extinct and disappear.
If you shoot the poachers they will become extinct and disappear.
The Government and the military are allowed to use fully automatic weapons.
Make poacher tracking and target practice a mandatory part of monthly training.
Talking politically correct or asking for more funds or passing laws and setting aside protected areas is not going to fix anything period, never has and never will.
You must address the problem directly and quickly.
Only direct action will stop direct actions.
Get your heads out of the sand and wake up while you still have some animals left to protect.

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