Sunday, March 2, 2014

Poaching of Rhinos in Kenya Doubled in 2013

Rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service receive instructions on how to use hand signals while out patrolling.

Government officials recently stated that poachers in Kenya have decimated double the number of the country's rhinos last year compared to the year before during an upsurge in wildlife killings. According to Paul Mbugua, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), at least 59 rhinos were brutally slaughtered for their horns in 2013 compared to thirty in 2012. The surge in rhino poaching, even inside the heavily guarded Nairobi National Park, indicate that poachers have little to fear of strict new laws enacted to curb the wave of killings. The poaching of elephants, on the other hand, has decreased by around a fifth from 384 killed in 2012 to 302 in 2013. However, Mr. Mbugua warned that "poachers have become more aggressive." That is, they would kill anyone who stands between them and elephants or rhinos. As of now, roughly 1,030 rhinos and some 38,000 elephants are left in Kenya. In recent years, poaching has increased dramatically in Africa with elephants and rhinos particularly targeted. This week's INTERPOL report stated there had been record levels of international ivory seizures worldwide last year. It further added that criminal syndicates are "making millions at the cost of our wildlife with comparatively little risk", and that "large-scale ivory shipments--each one representing the slaughter of hundreds of elephants--point to the involvement of organized crime networks operating across multiple cities." Last month, a Kenyan court delivered a record sentence to a Chinese ivory smuggler after he was arrested carrying a 7.5-pound ivory tusk. He was the first person to be convicted under a new law, and was ordered to pay twenty-million shillings or face a seven-year imprisonment.
A KWS veterinarian examining a tranquilized black rhinoceros in  the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

This news is a clear example about how poaching should be taken seriously no matter what. In Kenya, the poachers seem to feel that they have little fear of the new laws designed to severely punish the perpetrators. Because of this, the number of rhinos has plummeted sharply in 2013. The poachers demonstrated this fearlessness by simply killing authorities without giving any second thoughts. In order to combat this behavior, it is crucial to employ a shoot-to-kill order and implement it while out patrolling for any potential poachers. In Kenya, safari tours are the ultimate attractions for tourism which account for 12.5 percent of the country's revenue and eleven percent of jobs. Elephants and rhinos are couple examples of charismatic animals that tourists pay large sums of money just to observe while out on a safari. With poachers decimating these animals at an alarming rate, it not only indicates that the animals are being pushed towards extinction but also that poachers are tremendously affecting Kenya's economy. As long as poaching continues, the numbers of elephants and rhinos would be pushed closer and closer to extinction and Kenya's economy would further deplete resulting in a great deal of unemployment. This is why it is absolutely necessary to take a tough stand against these poachers and if it means killing them on the spot, then so be it.

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