Nairobi, Jan 3 – The poaching of iconic wildlife species in Kenya, including elephants and rhinos, has declined by 90 percent over the past six years thanks to enhanced surveillance, community involvement in conservation efforts and stiff penalties for offenders, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) reported this week.

According to KWS Director-General John Waweru, investment in robust anti-poaching efforts had paid dividends as evidenced by a significant decline in the number of giant land mammals killed by criminals for their trophies.

“In appreciation of the critical role the wildlife sector plays in national development and security, the government has enhanced its investments in anti-poaching and law enforcement operations,” said Waweru on December 31, 2019.

“As a result, Kenya has been able to reduce the level of poaching of iconic species by over 90 percent in the last six years,” he added.

Najin & Fatu, the last two Northern White Rhinos, nuzzling. Photo credits: Jemu Mwendwa

Statistics from KWS indicate that the number of elephants poached fell from 384 in 2012 to 38 in 2018 while the number of rhinos killed by poachers declined from 30 in 2012 to 4 in 2018.

“Our law enforcement units have embarked on structured engagement with local communities, private ranches and other conservation stakeholders to counter poaching threats and other wildlife crimes,” said Waweru.

Armed ranger at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Photo credits: Justin Mott

He said the government is committed to eradicating poaching and boosting the security of Kenyan wildlife, the main driver of the safari tours that are estimated to contribute nearly 14 per cent of the country’s GDP.