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SOS Rhino : In the News : Kenya boosts wildlife surveillance amid apparent surge in poaching

Kenya boosts wildlife surveillance amid apparent surge in poaching

  Terra Daily

NAIROBI (AFP) Jan 12, 2005
Kenyan authorities said Wednesday they were boosting anti-poaching patrols in the country's main wildlife areas amid an apparent surge in the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) announced the step as it said it had seized 36 kilograms (79 pounds) of contraband ivory in central and eastern Kenya last week and, along with police, arrested five suspects.

"KWS has reinforced ground and aerial surveillance in key wildlife areas and appeals to members of the public (to report) information on poaching," the agency said in a statement.

It said there had been "heightened poacher activity in Central Kenya with rhino and elephant mortalities recorded" in and around popular tourist areas such as the Aberdares, Mt Kenya and Samburu national parks.

In addition to the latest five arrests, made between Friday and Sunday, KWS said it had launched an operation with Kenya's Criminal Investigation Department to break up a major poaching gang in the centre of the country.

The five suspects, including a man believed to be a major trafficker in ivory and rhino horn, are to be charged later this week, KWS spokesman Edward Indakwa told AFP.

Last week's seizures come just a month after KWS rangers said they had confiscated 17 elephant tusks in western Kenya between mid-November and mid-December.

In October, Kenya mounted an unsuccessful bid to impose a 20-year moratorium on commercial ivory trade at the meeting in Bangkok of parties to the 1989 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

At the time, Kenya argued that the failure of the ban would encourage poaching in Africa, further endangering between 400,000 and 660,000 elephants.

Instead of a moratorium, several southern Africa countries -- Botswana, Namibia and South Africa -- got the go-ahead to begin commercial trade in elephant leather goods.

An international trade ban was agreed in 1989 after a massive illegal industry in ivory saw elephant populations plunge in the 1970s and 1980s.

But recovering numbers in Africa have prompted calls for some limited ivory exports in nations where populations have been well-managed.

CITES is the world's biggest treaty regulating trade in wildlife but conservationists complain that member states are not doing enough to enforce its rules.

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