Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kenya Experiences Rise in Rhino Poaching

A rhino pair

The year 2010 has seen some of the worst cases of wildlife poaching in the world. But none have been making regular headlines than South Africa. The nation has experienced a massive surge in poaching of wild rhinos, causing a massive drop of populations almost to the point where the animals would be labeled as EW (Extinct in the Wild). Wildlife conservationists and park rangers have stated that the catalysts to such a bloody and ruthless massacre have been high-tech poaching syndicates, who would target the animals from helicopters and gun them down. Even worse is that the members consist of veterinarians, who supply tranquilizer darts which makes the process seem like it is some sort of a scientific expedition intended to study the rhinos. This has made the situation difficult for authorities, as they try to plan tactics in order to save their local rhino population.

While South Africa has suffered drastically due to its rampant poaching of rhinos, another nation now appears to be next in line: Kenya. The spot where rhino poaching has been going rampant is Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. This 25,000-hectare wildlife sanctuary lies 140 miles north of Nairobi, and is one of the last rhino sanctuaries in Kenya; home to 64 black rhinos and 53 white rhinos. It was established in 1995 by a family of white Kenyans, and has been renowned for its rhino protection work such that it is often described as a model conservancy in wildlife protection circles. According to John Pameri, the sanctuary's head of security and chief ranger, four rhinos had been killed in the past twelve months along with fifteen elephants in the past two weeks. The main driver of the poaching activities is the illegal trade of rhino horns in China. Kenya has been witnessing an increase of Chinese nationals, which allows some rangers to make a link regarding the illegal trade. Lewa's manager Jonathan Moss stated that in response to any poaching threat, the reserve has set up a program consisting of night patrols, air surveillance, network of informers, and even the involvement of local communities. However, Mr. Moss also believes that that the only solution that would put an end to further poaching activities would be to address the illegal demand in the Far East.

I completely agree with Mr. Moss concerning the surge of rhino poaching in Kenya. While it is easy to combat illegal poaching through night patrols, surveillance, and community involvement, the biggest solution would be to address the Far East which is notorious for the illegal demand of endangered species. Earlier this year, South Africa had formed an alliance with Vietnam in order to combat rhino poaching. This news went to show how South Africa was taking a tough stand against poaching, yet there has not been any recent news concerning the current state of the nation's rhino population. But I personally feel that it is important to consider that other eastern countries are known for specializing in the illegal trade of rhino horns. An example shown in this article was China. I believe that the best solution for both Kenya and South Africa would be to forge an alliance with not just one but other Asian countries concerning the demand for rhino horns. That way, the poaching of rhinos in both of these African countries will cease to exist.

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