|An African Bush elephant in Kenya|
It has been recently announced that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has launched a new national elephant conservation and management strategy. The function was held at the Ivory Burning Site in Nairobi National Park, and was attended by several conservationists. These included representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Save the Elephants (STE), African Conservation Centre (ACC), universities and other research institutions. Among the participants present was the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Honorary Dr. Noah Wekesa, who pointed out that the world was witnessing an increase in the illegal killing of elephants and that the level of sophistication and organization of the traders were also worrying. He further noted that Kenya had lost 278 elephants last year, compared 177 in 2010. At the same time, over eight tonnes of illegal ivory were seized in the nation over the last three years.
The strategy's goal is to maintain and expand the distribution and numbers of elephants, enhance their security, reduce human-elephant conflict, and increase the value of elephants to habitats and people. It also outlines strategies the KWS and other conservation organizations will use to protect the animals, especially in key locations, such as dispersal areas, migration routes, and human-elephant conflict hotspots. In addition to that, the strategy seeks to address growing problems and threats to elephant conservation in Kenya. To achieve this, it will engage communities living adjacent to protected areas on the importance of protecting elephants through awareness and education. Furthermore, the strategy will agree on offering of incentives and provision of tangible benefits linked directly to presence of elephants which will increase tolerance of these animals among people. Overall, the strategy is designed to encourage landowners and local communities to accommodate and protect the elephants.
I'm very proud what Kenya is doing with respect to its elephants. Not only is this plan going to help people coexist with the animals, but also encourage them to protect the elephants from illegal poaching. In addition to reaching out to the community through education and awareness, this strategy also going to call for improved cross-border partnership. This includes coordination and cooperation on enforcement and monitoring of poaching and ivory trade with neighboring countries through groups, such as the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) and the INTERPOL. Kenya has long been noted for its role in elephant conservation, in which the KWS and other conservation stakeholders attributed to renewed and sustained efforts in curbing any illegal activities. Among these strategies included the introduction of sniffer dogs in airports such as Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta, and the Moi International Airport in Mombasa to detect any flow of ivory. There have even been plans to introduce dogs at the Eldoret International Airport, as well as other entry and exit points. I think Kenya is definitely a role model for African countries when it comes to wildlife conservation. A lot of other such countries where poaching is rampant would benefit if they learned from Kenya. At the same time, bot Kenya and these countries would benefit from one another if they form alliances in the battle to stem poaching and trade in wildlife of Africa. A good example would be Cameroon, which had recently witnessed a massacre of 200 elephants killed by poachers. The incident clearly highlights the danger and horror of poaching in countries that are not considering the threat as seriously as Kenya did over the years. This is why it is crucial for Kenya and all the other African countries to join hands together against this ongoing catastrophe.
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