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Kenya intensifies man-hunt for poachers who killed three rhinos

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has mobilized security personnel to hunt for poachers who killed three rhinos at Meru National Park in the eastern part of the country, an official said on Thursday.

Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, said an elite security team had been deployed to Meru National Park and its vicinity to nab the criminal gang behind the killing of two adult black rhinos and a calf on Wednesday night.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the poaching of three rhinos on Wednesday night at the Rhino Sanctuary in Meru National Park. The security team upon hearing gunshots reacted swiftly and laid ambushes at strategic points though it did not yield results,” Balala told reporters.

He revealed that a covert operation has been going on to help arrest the heavily armed gang behind the latest killing of black rhinos whose horns fetch huge sums of money in the black market.

“Our intelligence officers are already conducting probe on the culprits behind the first case of rhino poaching this year. An aerial and ground search could provide useful leads to help arrest these criminals,” said Balala.

He added that surveillance has been enhanced in all protected wildlife sanctuaries to deter poaching of large mammals like elephants and rhinos.

“We have specifically beefed up security in protected parks and Laikipia area in northern Kenya where there is a large herd of elephants and rhinos,” said Balala.

Kenya has lately won global acclaim for rolling out interventions that have led to a significant reduction in poaching of iconic wildlife species.

Balala said that poaching has been on a downward spiral thanks to law enforcement, retraining of wildlife rangers, community participation and adoption of surveillance technology.

“These interventions led to 85 percent reduction in rhino poaching and 78 percent reduction in elephant poaching in 2017,” said Balala adding that Kenya lost 69 elephants and 9 rhinos to poaching last year.



Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala Holds Press Briefing At KWS Headquarters

NAIROBI -- Kenya continues to enjoy leadership in wildlife conservation as demonstrated by increased wildlife populations – elephants at over 34,000 individuals and rhinos at more than 1,000 individuals:  because of this, it is with a heavy heart that we announce the poaching of three (3) rhinos yester night, May 02, 2018 at the Rhino Sanctuary in Meru National Park, where we lost two black rhinos and a calf.

The incident is a blow to the successes which have recently been seen in the declining poaching curve, engendered by enhanced wildlife law enforcement efforts and Government investment in conservation. These efforts culminated in 85% reduction in rhino poaching and 78% reduction in elephant poaching in 2017(nine rhinos and 69 elephants lost) compared to when poaching was at its zenith in 2012 and 2013.

The successes were further bolstered by intricate security strategies to enhance the wildlife security situation in the country, in addition to collaboration with other security agencies, the Judiciary and other stakeholders within and beyond our borders.

The poaching incident at the Rhino Sanctuary occurred at approximately 6.30pm. Upon hearing gunshots, the security teams based on the ground headed towards the direction of the gunshots, laying ambushes at strategic points until morning. These did not yield results.

A meticulous ground and aerial search was orchestrated at first light, whereupon the carcasses of two adult rhinos and a calf were discovered with their horns missing. There were no signs of the perpetrators of the poaching, but the teams on the ground, both overt and covert, are diligently following up on promising leads.

In light of this, the Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Najib Balala, EGH, visited KWS headquarters today to evaluate the security system with a view to boosting surveillance on all fronts, more especially poaching and human-wildlife conflicts. 


South Africa translocates endangered black rhinos to Chad

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa on Thursday began the translocation of black rhinos to Chad amid intensified efforts to salvage the endangered animal.

South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa witnessed the loading and departure of black rhinos from the Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape Province.

This was part of an initiative to reintroduce rhinos to the African country under an agreement signed between South Africa and Chad in 2017.

The agreement on the re-introduction of black rhinos to Chad seeks to re-establish a rhino population in Chad as part of the broader biodiversity initiatives between South Africa and Chad, Molewa said.

“By establishing a viable and secure rhino population of rhino in Chad, we are contributing to the expansion of the rhino population in Africa, and the survival of a species that has faced high levels of poaching for the past decade,” said Molewa.

The translocation of black rhinos is being achieved through a collaboration between the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, the government of Chad, South African National Parks and the African Parks Foundation.

The rhinos are being translocated to the Zakouma National Park in Chad which has experienced a dramatic decrease due to poaching since 2010. The last black rhino in Chad was seen in Zakouma in the 1970s.

Chad was historically home to at least two rhinoceros species - the northern white rhinos and the western black rhinos.

Translocation is but one of the interventions being implemented by South Africa a part of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach, said Molewa.

“Our approach includes compulsory interventions, interventions to increase rhino numbers, long-term sustainability interventions and game-changing interventions,” she said.

South Africa has also translocated black and white rhinos to a number of other African countries, including Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Namibia, Mozambique, Kenya and Swaziland.

South Africa, home of more than 80 percent of rhino population in the world, bears the brunt of rhino poaching, lossing 1,028 rhinos to poaching last year.


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