The Star (Nairobi)

14 December 2012

Kenya: Seven Rhinos in Isiolo Shot Dead By Poachers in 10 Days

MORE than three elephants and seven endangered rhino have been killed by poachers in the Northern Circuit, ten days after the Kenya Wildlife Services concluded the wildlife census.

Isiolo county commissioner Wanyama Musiambo yesterday ordered the security personnel, including the regular police, APs, KWS rangers and conservancy scouts to track down the poachers.

Musiambo said the recent killings of seven rhinos at Lewa conservancies and three more elephants within the circuit is alarming and called for urgent measures to end poaching.

He warned poachers that there days are numbered. He said they will be arrested and prosecuted. The commissioner said the suspects will be paraded at Isiolo town to shame before being prosecuted.

"We are going to come up with a coordinated security intelligence to arrest the suspects," Musiambo said. He was addressing the public at Isiolo Stadium durin Jamhuri Day celebrations .

The commissioner attributed the killings to increased demand for trophies and asked the policymakers to address the challenges facing wildlife to promote tourism.

Last week, the KWS conducted an aerial count of elephants and endangered grevy Zebra within the larger Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo and Marsabit complex. The census recorded a drastic fall in the number of elephants and Zebra in three years.

KWS director William Kipkoech Kiprono, who announced the results of the count at Isiolo Sarova Shaba, said the number of elephants has reduced from 7,415 in 2008 census to 6,361 while that of Gravy Zebra have gone down from 2,400 in 2008 to 1,870.

Kiprono attributed the sudden fall of the figure to increased poaching due to high market demand for ivory, drought, climate change and lack of pumps and signs along Isiolo-Moyale highway where several zebras were killed.

The killings of the rare Rhinos at Lewa conservancy comes two days after the director declared total war against the poaching and outlined urgent security measures to curb the menace.

The director regretted that illegal poaching has been on increase due to easy access to sophisticated arms in the last past years where a herd of elephants in parts of Kwale were massacred.

He said the Kenya Wildlife services will come up with a strategic plan including acquiring an advanced radio, step up operations and working closely with the members of the community to support in the war against the illegal poaching and other issues that affect the wildlife.

" I will not accept to supervise as director where animals were killed in masses, i rather resign and watch from outside," said the Director after dispatching 2012 results in Isiolo last week.

He said the Kenya Wildlife Services will modernize its service to control the menace to zero percent tolerance to poaching and spread officers all over the vast areas to combat the killings.

During the occasion, Mr Kiprono said the role to protect wildlife should not be left to KWS alone but other security agents, community and partners must take responsibility in safeguarding and protecting the animals.

" We want everybody to stand up for this, because the world should not keep quite while consumers have gone to the next level," said the director in his key note speech.

He said the census is meant to assess endangered species in the region in order to check on its trend and come up with remedial measures including mobilizing resources and put in place stringent security measures to minimize illegal killings.

Mr Kiprono said the data will enable Kenya Wildlife Services and other organizations dealing in conservation management to tackle emerging challenges and come up with right approach towards addressing issues affecting the sector.

The region has second largest population of elephants and the largest 90% of gravy Zebra population in Samburu, Isiolo Conservation area and is therefore important for continued monitoring to provide long term data for better coordination and sound management.

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