Elephant, Giraffe Populations Rebound as Kenya Fights Poachers
(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s war against elephant and giraffe poaching is paying off with populations of both species increasing.
The elephant population has increased by 12% in the past seven years to 36,169 animals, while the number of giraffes have risen 49% since 2019 to 34,240, according to a report released by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife after Kenya’s first national wildlife census.
The pachyderm is mainly hunted for its ivory, while giraffes fall prey to poaching for bush meat, bones, skin and tail hair.
“Efforts put in place by the government to curb elephant poaching in different ecosystems continue to be productive,” according to the report. “There has been a notable increase of all the three species of giraffe found in Kenya. Efforts to increase penalties on crimes related to threatened species appear to be bearing fruits.”
More than 30 species of mammals, birds and marine species were counted during the census conducted between April and July. The exercise covered more than 343,380 kilometers square, or 59% of Kenya’s land mass.
Failure to protect such species could put the nation’s tourism industry in jeopardy. Tourism is the country’s biggest foreign-currency earner after remittances and farm shipments and accounts for about 10% of gross domestic product. From 1977-2016 the number of wildlife, the nation’s main tourism attraction, declined by 68% both outside and inside protected areas, according to research published on PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal.
To aid the East African nation’s conservation efforts, the report recommended that Kenya allocates a budget to support annual and active monitoring of rare and endemic species in the country where wildlife parks helped to draw almost three million visitors a year before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Immediate budget support is required to establish status of species currently threatened by illegal trade and bush meat such as pangolins, dik diks and gazelles,” the report said.
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