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KWS launches conservation and management strategy for the Black Rhino in Kenya
Date Published: 20 Sep, 2012
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on September 19, 2012 launched the conservation and management strategy for the black rhino in Kenya (2012-2016) at its headquarters in Nairobi.
The strategy is the fifth edition of its kind of the Rhino Strategic Plan which re-focuses efforts on rhino conservation despite the ever increasing challenges. The Strategic Plan has maintained Kenya’s vision to conserve at least 2000 black rhinos in the wild.
It places emphasis is on: protection and law enforcement; monitoring for management; biological management; population expansion; awareness and public support and coordination and capacity. These objectives will be coordinated by a steering committee whose main role will be to monitor implementation of the Strategic Plan.
The KWS Board of Trustees Chairman, Hon. David Mwiraria, who was the guest of honour at the event, hailed the strategy as a great milestone in rhino conservation and management in this country.
“The strategy defines a revised overall goal of conserving at least 750 black rhinos by the end of 2016, achieving at least a five per-cent national growth rate with less than one per-cent man-induced and disease-related deaths,” Hon. Mwiraria said.
KWS Director, Julius Kipng’etich, assured Kenyans and the world that KWS has put into place all the necessary security measures to protect and conserve the charismatic species.
“KWS has increased the rhino to ranger ratio to 1:2 while in some private ranches such as the Ngulia Sanctuary, the ratio is 1:1 to ensure maximum protection for the rhinos,” Kipng’etich added.
He also gave a stern warning to poachers that KWS would deal severely with them and do what it takes to protect the country’s wildlife.
It is reported that around 700,000 firearms in the country is in the wrong hands, greatly fuelling the poaching menace.
The African black rhino is currently listed as “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Over the last 20 years in particular, considerable money and other resources have been expended in several African countries aimed at saving the black rhino from extinction. As a result, the declining trend has been reversed and numbers are slowly increasing.
Kenya has become a major player in Africa in rhino conservation with the third largest black rhino population after South Africa and Namibia. As at the end of 2011 Kenya had 623 black rhinos while Africa had a total of 4,880 black rhinos. However, Illegal demand for rhino horn resulting in poaching was, and continues to be, the major threat to the exisistence of all African rhino species.
It is speculated that the increase in poaching results from societal changes in some Asian countries where rhino horn is purported to cure cancer and other diseases. While scientists have proven that rhino has no medicinal value, these myths, combined with surging Asian economies, have put rhino horns in high demand.
Kenya has intensified its anti-poaching efforts by increasing the rhino ranger force by more than 25 percent during 2011, converting rhino scouts on private lands into Kenya Police Reservists, offering formal training of community scouts in wildlife protection, using sniffer dogs for monitoring and relocating rhinos from areas of high risk to areas of low risk.