Recent reports showing that ivory smuggling in on the increase are quite alarming.
100 elephant tusks that were seized at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi recently had a market value of over Sh100 million.
Another consignment exported from Kenya and recovered in Thailand was valued at Sh380 million.
That the poachers have becoming daring is not in question. Since 2003, more than 800 elephants have been killed while 70 were killed in the first four months of this year.
This shows a resurgence in attacks.
While the recovery of the ivory haul shows that our officials are on the track of these smugglers, more needs to be done to ensure that more elephants are not killed.
Since wildlife is a major revenue earner for the country, these reports of a rise in poaching incidents are very worrying.
If the trend continues, the tourism industry will be a major casualty.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, most of the recent elephant killings have occurred in Samburu and Laikipia counties.
Poachers have adopted hi-tech weaponry in order to evade Kenya Wildlife Service rangers and this can also be reflected by the high number of elephants that have been killed.
In 2007, 47 elephants were killed by poachers while the number rose to 145 in 2008 and 216 in 2010.
The trend shows that the menace is on the increase and the government must intensify efforts to tackle the poachers.
The number of rangers tasked with enforcing security in a region that is about eight per cent of the country’s land mass stands at 1,500.
The rangers cover 22 national parks, 28 game reserves and five national sanctuaries.
It seems that despite adopting modern technology and arming its rangers with latest weaponry, the Kenya Wildlife Service has still not managed to eradicate the menace. In 2010, 28,000 elephant tusks were recovered.
According to the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, a regional anti-poaching initiative, ivory and rhino horn poachers have become sophisticated, prompting the need to improve the training of rangers, weaponry and intelligence gathering and analysis
As a result of the high demand for the ivory, especially in Asia where black market demand for ivory remains high, the poachers seem to have access to a lot of money that enables them to buy sophisticated weapons and new technology
KWS should be supported in its efforts to improve anti-poaching skills among rangers and the adoption of the best training practices from round the world.
Lest we eradicate the menace, our country’s tourism industry will be destroyed.