Kenya is a country in East Africa with its coastline on the Indian Ocean. It encloses savannah, Lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands. It’s also home to wildlife like lions, elephants and rhinos. The country offers many wildlife and recreational activities that attract many tourist visits e.g. wildebeest migration.
Poaching is a continuous global problem that has threatened the survival of rhinos and elephants. Countries in East Africa,, poaching activities have been reported to have spiked over the recent years. In Kenya, about 280 elephants and almost 60 rhinos have been killed by poachers in 2013, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Elephants have ivory and Rhinos have horns which apparently are in high demand internationally. Ivory is used in the manufacture of piano and organ keys, billiard balls, handles and other minor items used for decorations. Rhino horns are used in the Asian countries such as Malaysia, Korea and Vietnam as a treatment for many different symptoms and illnesses. It was used in lowering fever, and help fight gout and rheumatism.
In the past, poaching levels were very high which threatened the survival of Rhinos and elephants. When the Rhino’s horn is removed, the rhino can survive in the wild and the horn re-grows. If the elephant’s ivory is removed, they die. Armed bandits from Somalia were suspected to be poaching the wild animals at an alarming rate. This made the game park tenders not to have morale on how to deal with the situation because they lacked good weapons that could fight them off. In 1989, Kenya Wildlife Service was established and new rules kept in place. Poaching was made illegal by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Kenya’s public destruction of its ivory stockpile in 1989, which raised international awareness around the poaching issue. Recently however the continent is experiencing a re-emergence of poaching. There has been a shift in tactics and also areas targeted by the poachers. They have poisons which kill the animals and also different snares to trap them.
The growing affluence of Asian economy has increased demand for Africa’s resources. Many people saw this as an opportunity and joined poaching. The poachers became more in number and dangerous. Some ranches and community conservatives lacked the capacity to effectively handle poaching in their area because the criminals were very dangerous because of their different tactics and weapons.
“Kenya lost nine rhinos and 60 elephants to poachers in 2017, compared to 14 rhinos and 96 elephants lost in the previous year” said Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife for Kenya. “When we started in 1983, we had just 15 black rhinos living on our land. Not only has this increased but we’ve also been able to re-stock other previously uninhabited areas with rhinos. We’ve reintroduced rhinos to places where they had been wiped out in the 1980’s.” Wanjiku Kinuthia, a communications officer at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy said. Last year 2020 there was no rhino that was poached down from 59 cases in 2013. 7 elephants were poached in 2020 as compared to 34 in 2019 and 80 in 2018. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/kenya-no-rhino-poached-in-2020/2139003#:~:text=Kenya%20also%20recorded%20the%20lowest,lowest%20ever%20in%20KWS%20history.%E2%80%9D )
There are many companies that work with investors overseas to help maintain wildlife in Kenya and Africa in general. Example of such a company is The CCG Trust network of private donors and investors. The company is a UK registered charity operating as “Investors In Wildlife”. The company is known to fund conservation fieldwork, anti-poaching, community projects, animal protection and park rehabilitation. 100% of private donor funds are directed to practical work in the field, creating conservation jobs to protect animals and help develop sustainable tourism.( http://www.investorsinwildlife.com/) Investing is quite critical in maintaining the animals and avoiding extinction. The investors are able to get some return/ percentage when tourists visit the sites. According to http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/africa/2021-04/21/c_139896702.htm#:~:text=Data%20from%20the%20ministry%20of,whose%20numbers%20declined%20in%202020. Data from the ministry of tourism shows the tourism sector directly contributes 4.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If poaching continues on the rise, then the country’s GDP will reduce because of reduction/ extinction of animals. If GDP is slowing down, it can lead to fears of a recession which means redundancy and unemployment and declining business revenues and consumer spending. The GDP report is also a way to look at which sectors of the economy are growing and which are declining.
Weak governance and corruption have exacerbated the poaching crisis. Poverty is one of the main causes of increased poaching over the years. If poaching continues to increase, Kenya’s economy will go down because the rhinos and elephants are a source of tourism attraction. The Kenya Wildlife Service is doing a good job in conserving the animals because over the years the number of poaching activities has significantly reduced.
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