Kenyan premier appeals for aid in poaching menace

Agence France Presse — Agence France Presse

January 9, 2013

NAIROBI — Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga appealed Wednesday for international aid in helping the east African country deal with an escalating poaching menace.

His appeal comes after a family of 11 elephants was slaughtered in the vast Tsavo East National Park in southeastern Kenya on Saturday.

"I appeal to the international community to help strengthen the national and international policing to deal with wildlife trafficking as a serious threat to conservation, rule of law, governance and economic development," a statement from the Prime Minister's office read.

Odinga said that tourism, Kenya's most important foreign exchange earner, "remains under serious assault from poachers."

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya lost at least 360 elephants last year, an increase from the 289 elephants killed in 2011.

"The danger seems to be worsening with every passing day," Odinga said, adding that Kenyan security agencies must treat the emerging poaching threat as part of the insecurity griping the country and not a wildlife issue to be addressed solely by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The international trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

Last week officials in Hong Kong seized more than a tonne of ivory worth about $1.4 million in a shipment from Kenya.

Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is due to hold its next meeting in March, a date that Omondi says has in the past triggered a rise in poaching.

"We need a well coordinated, well-financed and properly designed crackdown on poachers. This must involve the police, the Ministry of Tourism, Interpol and the various ministries whose functions directly relate to the protection of wildlife and all our precious natural resources currently under threat," he said.

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