Monday, August 19, 2013

Kenya Unveils its Inter-Agency Anti-poaching Unit

Confiscated ivory

It has been recently reported that Kenya has revealed its inter-agency anti-poaching unit, which consists of officers from specialized aspects of the Administration Police, General Service Unit, and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in an effort to bolster the fight against poaching. According to Paul Muya, spokesperson for the KWS, the establishing of this organization shows the government's obligation in guaranteeing that the wildlife is safe. He stated that the KWS was working with other conservation stakeholders to confirm that the war against poaching is won. He further added that the increasing poaching crisis has become both an economic and national security issue. In addition, he also pointed out that the KWS requires more resources for it manages roughly eight percent of the country's total landmass which includes 22 national parks, 29 national reserves, and four national sanctuaries including six national marine reserves and four parks. Furthermore, Muya noted that the number of active rangers has decreased significantly due to natural abrasion and retirement. He stated that the government has however made an obligation during this financial year to advocate the enlistment and disposal of at least 1,000 new rangers, in phases, to bolster KWS's capacity to conduct their authority effectively. Muya also indicated that the KWS will continue working with other law enforcement agencies, particularly the Customs, Immigration Department, Interpol, Kenya Airports Authority, Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), and the police in making sure that international and local laws on wildlife crimes are carried out.

This article gives a clear demonstration of a nation's tough stand against poaching. This is seen through joint collaboration between a wildlife agency and other law enforcement agencies such as the police department, customs, and immigration department, among others, in an effort to put a stop to the ever-increasing threat of poaching. Kenya had earlier lost 384 elephants and 29 rhinos to poaching last year. This year, the country has lost 190 elephants and 34 rhinos. Furthermore, the government is enthusiastic on the quick execution of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill, 2013, which suggests inflexible and preventative punishments against poaching. In addition, there is even a genetics and wildlife forensics laboratory being built at the KWS headquarters and is set to be installed later this year later this year to support prosecution of wildlife crimes. Although this is promising news regarding wildlife protection, I also feel that Kenya could further bolster its stand against poaching by forming alliances and helping other African nations that do not appear to be taking a similar stand against the threat. For example, Tanzania has recently been in the news where senior officials within the nation's government are behind elephant poaching. Many of these officials come from key government departments responsible for wildlife conservation. The news indicates the threat of corruption is looming large in the nation, and is ultimately responsible for depriving Tanzania's wildlife of its safety. Therefore, I believe that those African countries whose individual governments have made a commitment to take decisive action against poaching and other wildlife-related crimes should provide help to the ones that are not standing a chance in the battle.

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