The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director, William Kiprono, has delivered a speech about the current state of wildlife to the annual meeting of Wardens and Scientists. The meeting was held at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi. As you would expect the bulk of the speech was connected with the current wildlife poaching crisis.
Some of the more notable parts of the speech included;
The agreement of the national government to fund an extra 1,000 rangers. The KWS announced the recruitment plans earlier in the year with the first 500 to be recruited in July and the remainder over the course of the rest of the year and early next year. The ranger force will then be at about 3000 personnel.
The passing of the new Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill which will see a big increase in sentencing for poachers and the ability for the KWS to act against staff who are working with poachers. The sentence for poaching is to increase to a maximum of 7 years in jail and the fine to increase to Ksh 1 million (approx. £7,500 – a substantial amount considering the annual income for the country).
The news that Kenya has lost 137 elephants and 24 rhino since the start of the year. 123 suspected poachers have been arrested so far this year. In 2012 Kenya lost 19 rhino in the entire year.
The current rhino population in Kenya stands at 1025 with 25 new births so far this year. The KWS is aiming for a rhino population growth rate of 5% a year and aims to reduce human and disease deaths in the population to 1% or less.
Highlighted that 32 KWS employees have been indicted for collaboration with poachers. This is just the start and the action was taken to allow for further investigations to continue.
106 people have been killed by wildlife since the start of the year with another 520 injured. The government has paid out Ksh 47 million in compensation.
In the speech Kiprono thanked all the different agencies that worked with the KWS in the last year. He also assured the public, both in Kenya and internationally, that the Kenya Wildlife Service is up to the job of protecting the country’s wildlife.
He concluded his speech with, “We would like to assure all Kenyans and the world at large that KWS is up to the task of protecting our wildlife. We are appealing to all citizens of the world to cooperate with us in ensuring that our wildlife is secure. Ultimately, we all have a duty to save the last great species and places for humanity“.