Kenya's Poached Elephant Herds Receive Help From London Zoo

Thu, 3/1/2012 - 6:36 AM

By Amy Harris

Kenya - Kenya’s elephants are being thrown a much-needed lifeline in response to mounting threats and the resurgence of the world’s illegal ivory trade.

Creating elephant-friendly and elephant-free zones, along with wildlife corridors and heightened law enforcement, are some of the bold initiatives to be rolled out as part of Kenya’s first 10-year national strategy for the conservation and management of elephants.

Developed by conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Kenya Wildlife Service and other partner organisations, the strategy’s launch comes after a recent surge in poaching. This worrying development is sparking fears of a re-run of the catastrophic slaughter of elephants in Kenya during the 1970s and 1980s, which resulted in numbers crashing from 167,000 to just 20,000 individuals.

Rajan Amin, a senior conservation biologist at ZSL who has been one of the lead authors in compiling the strategy, says: “Kenya is surrounded by countries in conflict and the continual and inevitable flow of arms is rendering the nation and its elephants at constant risk; all the more worrying in the face of a growing demand for ivory.

“The launch of this ground-breaking national strategy comes at a critical time for Kenya’s remaining 35,000 elephants. As well as tackling the pressing issue of poaching, overcoming the challenges associated with Kenya’s growing human population will be essential if we are to secure a safe and lasting future for this national treasure.”

Kenyan elephant coordinator Dr Shadrack Ngene, says: “The elephant is a keystone species and maintaining a healthy population is vital to the long term ecological integrity of its entire habitat. Feeding from the strategy’s seven key objectives, specific actions and measurable targets will now begin to be implemented at both local and national level to help maintain and grow elephant populations in Kenya.”

Notes:

The Conservation and Management Strategy for the Elephant in Kenya (2012 – 2021) was launched on Wednesday 22 February 2012. The launch took place at the iconic ivory burning site in Nairobi, where in 1989 Kenya’s President Moi symbolically launched a global ban on the ivory trade by burning stockpiles of ivory.

The African elephant is currently classified as a Vulnerable species by the IUCN.
The Kenya Elephant Conservation and Management Strategy identifies the current threats and explores the emerging opportunities, and provides a framework for coordinated and concerted action over the next 10 years to assure the persistence of elephants in Kenya, both as an economic asset for its national constituency, and as a symbol of Kenya’s deep commitment to the conservation of biodiversity. The overall goal of the strategy is to maintain and expand elephant distribution and numbers in suitable areas, enhance security to elephants, reduce human-elephant conflict and increase value of elephants to people and habitat. The associated strategic objectives are:
Protection: Protect elephant populations by minimizing poaching through effective law enforcement measures and stakeholder collaboration
Population expansion and habitat maintenance: Maintain and expand elephant distribution and numbers in suitable habitat where appropriate
Research and monitoring for management: Strengthen existing monitoring systems and conduct priority research to provide information for adaptive management and protection of elephants and critical habitats
Human elephant conflict: Enhance HEC mitigation by involving stakeholders at all levels in the use of appropriate site-specific methods
Incentives: Provide meaningful benefits that will encourage landowners and local communities to tolerate, protect and accommodate elephants
Capacity: Sustain an effective resource capacity through collaborative efforts among stakeholders with a strategic focus on priority areas
Coordination and support: Implement an effective coordination framework to support stakeholders and enhance decision making and action

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Society runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research at the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation overseas. For further information please visit www.zsl.org

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is a state corporation established under the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act, 1989, CAP 376 of the Laws of Kenya and holds the national mandate to conserve, protect and manage wildlife on behalf of the government and the people of Kenya. It is further enjoined to develop the required human resources, achieve financial self-sufficiency and encourage the support and participation of the people of Kenya in order that it may be able to effectively manage these resources which are of inestimable socio-cultural, aesthetic and scientific value. It is also charged with the responsibility of establishing and managing National Parks, National Reserves and other protected Wildlife Sanctuaries. It conducts and co-ordinates research activities in the field of wildlife conservation and management and is the managing authority on behalf of the Government of Kenya for biodiversity related international protocols, conventions, treaties and agreements.

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