Kenya has welcomed its efforts to crack down on poaching of endangered wildlife as results of the country’s first-ever national wildlife census was released in a survey that has been called a vital weapon in its conservation battle.
According to the census, the country has a total of 36,280 elephants, a 12% jump from the figures recorded in 2014, when poaching activity was at its highest.
The report showed that efforts to increase penalties on crimes related to threatened species appear to be bearing fruits.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature had warned earlier in March that poaching and the destruction of habitat due to land conversion for agriculture, was devastating elephant numbers across Africa.
The number of African savanna elephants dropped by at least 60% in the past 50 years, prompting their reclassification as “endangered” in the latest update to the IUCN’s “Red List” of threatened species.
The census said the numbers of lions, zebras, hirolas (Hunter’s antelopes) and the three species of giraffes found in the country had also gone up, but did not provide comparative figures from earlier years.
The survey counted 1,739 rhinos including two northern white rhinos, 897 critically endangered black rhinos and 840 southern white rhinos, and said the tourist magnet Maasai Mara National Reserve was home to nearly 40,000 wildebeest. .
President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta applauded conservation agencies for successfully clamping down on poaching and urged them to find newer, inventive approaches to protect wildlife.
Kenya has been trying to strike a balance between protecting its wildlife while managing the dangers they pose when they raid human settlements in search of food and water.
Exponential growth in human population and the accompanying rise in demand for land for settlement as well as activities such as livestock incursions, logging and charcoal burning have been threatening to slow down recent gains.
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