The Kenyan elephants are at great risk due to massive poaching in the neighbouring Tanzania, experts have warned.
Last year, Kenya lost 167 elephants to poachers while Tanzania lost more than 10,000 jumbos.
WildlifeDirect CEO Paula Kahumbu said though the elephant population at the park had stabilised between 1,500 to
1,600, the animals are at risk of being killed as the migrate to Tanzania.
Most elephants migrate between Kenya and Tanzania.
“The slaughter of thousands of elephants in Tanzania clearly points to the involvement of international organised crime, which is compounded by corruption and weak enforcement capacity in the country,” Kahumbu said.
She spoke at Amboseli National Park on Wednesday during celebrations of World’s Elephant Day.
Kahumbu said there is urgent need to scale up efforts to tackle the poaching epidemic before the region’s remaining elephant herds are destroyed.
She said since 2009, at least 45 tonnes have reached the international black market from Tanzania making it Africa’s largest source of poached ivory.
Kahumbu said a meeting with Tanzania’s Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu revealed that the numbers of
elephant at Selous Reserve had dropped from 45,000 to 15,000.
She said this has made Unesco name the reserve as a poaching hotspot.
Kahumbu said other massive drops in Ruaha-Rungwa are alarming.
She urged the government to deploy more ranger on the borders to help curb the menace.
“What we are likely to see is these organised poachers putting more pressure on the Kenyan elephants especially in Amboseli once they are done with Tanzania,” Kahumbu said.
She asked the government to fasten the prosecutions of major poaching kingpins.
Kahumbu said though poaching had dropped by 50 per cent in the last 12 months, the government should not relent on enforcing the wildlife law which gives more penalties to poachers.
US Ambassador Robert Godec said his government will continue to collaborate with Kenya to fight poaching.
He said his government had already committed $6 million to help coordinate various activities and projects that would campaign against poaching.
“We shall continue to provide capacity in terms of equipment and training among other support for the government of
Kenya to effectively fight poachers,” Godec said.