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SOS Rhino : In the News : Kenya blames drought for increasing wildlife crime

Kenya blames drought for increasing wildlife crime

  Nairobi, Kenya

Mail & Guardian online
07 March 2006 11:44 PM

The Kenyan government on Monday blamed increasing incidents of poaching and illegal trade in bush meat in the country on a searing drought that has put millions of people across East Africa at risk of famine.

Tourism and Wildlife Minister Morris Dzoro said authorities were working to crack down on illegal trafficking of ivory, rhino horn and other live animals such as reptiles within the region, despite the drought.

"Wildlife crime has been worsened by the current drought which has exacerbated the bushmeat trade and killed many wild animals whose trophies now lie in the wrong hands," Dzoro told an anti-poaching seminar in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, about 90km northwest of the capital.

As the government and relief agencies scramble to save human populations from starvation, wildlife authorities have warned that poachers are targeting weakened wildlife that are also dying in droves amid amid increased drought-related competition for scarce food and water.

Last month, KWS rangers arrested eight suspected poachers and recovered 10 elephant tusks and a vervet monkey in the country's central Rift Valley, amid fears that the illegal practices were on the increase across the nation.

"Environmental crime is a growing problem that is increasingly linked to other crimes such as smuggling, fraud, money laundering, weapons offences and drugs," Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a message to the seminar that was sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw).

"Just a month ago, authorities in Cameroon rescued an infant chimpanzee and seized 50kg of marijuana in the same incident. Poaching endangered species is an increasingly lucrative and relatively easy activity and we need to tackle this international problem on an international scale," Noble said.

Ifaw East African chief James Isiche called on states to cooperate and end trafficking of wildlife and their products.

"Wildlife crime is a matter of serious global concern -- its magnitude is considered second only to illegal drug trafficking. Its transboundary nature requires collaboration both between states and within national law enforcement agencies," Isiche said.

"This also calls for the deployment of substantial resources which are more often not available to developing countries," he added.

At least 40 people, or perhaps many more, have died in northern Kenya and livestock are also dying at an alarming rate amid acute food shortages that are threatening at least 11-million people across the east and horn of Africa regions. - Sapa-AFP

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