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World Rhino Day: KWS calls for stiffer penalties to curb poaching and illegal trade in wildlife species

A game ranger taking care of a rhino. PHOTO/OL PEJETA


Stiffer penalties equivalent to those meted out to drug trafficking are required to curb poaching and illegal trade in wildlife species and products, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), acting Director general, Mr William Kiprono, has said..
Mr Kiprono noted that there is evidence that proceeds from the illegal trade in wildlife products have in some cases surpassed those from narcotic drugs and there is a high  probability that the proceeds are used to finance terrorism activities and other transnational crimes.
“If we let our wildlife to be decimated to extinction, Africa will lose all the future economic potential of wildlife – based tourism, which today stands at over  shs.120 billion in Kenya alone,’’ the acting director said.
According to Kenya News Agency, Mr Kiprono observed that currently there is a rise in number of Rhino being killed for their horn in Africa and Kenya’s Rhino population has not been spared too.
These remarks were contained in as a speech read on his behalf on Tuesday by a KWS  deputy Director, Mr. Richard  Otieno during the World Rhino Day celebration at  Nanyuki central park, Laikipia County.

All five rhino species that include Sumatran, Black, White, Javan and One-Horned Rhinos, are threatened by poaching and habitat loss. PHOTO/OL PEJETA

World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22 every year around the globe and it provides the opportunity for cause-related organizations, NGOs, zoos, and members of the public to celebrate rhinos in their own unique ways.

Mr Kiprono added that since the presidential decree in 1985 to establish a Rhino conservation program, after a massive poaching crisis, Kenya has become a major player in Africa with the third largest rhino population after South Africa and Namibia.
He said wildlife represents more than Africa’s and Kenya’s heritage because it is one of the few resources that the continent depends on.
“Across Africa illegal trade in Rhino and other endangered species is on the rise and the trend is alarming taking into consideration that wildlife resources in Africa continue to play a significant role in socio-economic development” the director said.

A rhino in the wild. PHOTO/OL PEJETA
The director said KWS is committed in the fight against poaching adding that the vice has not only claimed wildlife but has also claimed lives of many wildlife rangers and law enforcement officers.
“KWS strategy to modernize its security operations, systems and troops deployment to combat poaching is at advanced stage,’’ Kiprono added.
Mr Kiprono said the strategy approach is aimed at achieving high standards of performance by the KWS troops and field operators to stop any further poaching incidences.
The acting DG called on partner organizations and agencies to support initiatives of engaging Governments whose Citizens are implicated in wildlife illegal trade alongside strengthening and sustaining cooperation of local and international wildlife security.
The acting General Director said the national government treasures partnerships with the private land rhino sanctuaries, the county governments and individual communities with rhino on their land.
Mr Kiprono added that over 400 Community Rangers, from Rhino sanctuaries and community conservancies within Mountain Conservation area have been trained at  KWS Law Enforcement  Academy, Manyani.

This story was first published by The Kenya News Agency

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