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US government pledge support for KWS anti-poaching operations

Date Published: 09 Nov, 2012
US government pledge support for KWS anti-poaching operations

KWS Senior Warden Capture and Veterinary Services Dr. Isaac Lekolol (left) takes Acting American Ambassador to Kenya H.E Robert Godec (fore center) through the construction site of the forensic laboratory on Friday November 9, 2012. With him is KWS Special Projects Assistant Director Ibrahim Ogle and KWS Director William Kiprono (right).

The American Government has pledged to support Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to secure wildlife resources in the country, acting American Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has said.

Ambassador Godec was speaking when he met KWS Director William Kiprono at the organization’s headquarters in Nairobi on Friday (November 9, 2012).

This comes a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a stern warning on Thursday against illicit trafficking of wildlife products. She announced that the U.S government is keen to pursue a policy on non-trafficking and wildlife security.

“Over the past few years’ wildlife products trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before,” she said. “We are increasingly seeing wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world.”

Secretary Clinton said that the global value of illegal wildlife trafficking is as much as $10 billion per year, ranking it as one of the largest criminal transnational activities worldwide along with arms, drugs and human trafficking.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has also issued a press statement praising the U.S position saying that an escalating poaching crisis around the world has impacted negatively on populations of endangered species like tigers, elephants, and rhinos to the brink of extinction and hence the plight to make this statement came at an opportune time.

KWS director urged Ambassador Godec to strengthen ties with the Asian community on handling criminal cartels within the region. He thanked the American Government for its continued support in wildlife conservation.

 “Our biggest challenge is having sufficient weaponry in curbing wildlife poaching in the country because the poachers have become more sophisticated,” said Kiprono.

Ambassador Godec pledged that the American government will look at possibilities of equipping KWS rangers to meet emerging challenges of wildlife crime in the country.

“Kenya is the biggest beneficiary of Antiterrorism funding in Africa and it’s our responsibility to ensure it stays that way and remain useful,” he said.

A Sh. 110 million wildlife forensic and genetics laboratory, partly financed by the U.S. government, is being constructed at KWS headquarters in Nairobi. The laboratory will employ modern DNA technology to aid in among others, help connect exhibits (wildlife trophies and bush meat) to specific poaching incidents and in tracking genetic status of declining wildlife populations as well as determine isolated and special gene pools that require special protection. It will also enhance disease diagnosis, surveillance and monitoring in wildlife populations.