KWS begins wildlife census in five counties
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has launched an aerial survey to establish the population of elephants, buffaloes, giraffes and Grevy’s Zebras in the northern conservation area that comprises of Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, Laikipia and Meru Counties.
Speaking during the launch of the survey expected to last for ten days, Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof Judy Wakhungu said that this year’s census will cover an area of about 60,000 square kilometers.
Prof. Wakhungu, who launched the exercise at the Shaba National Reserve in Isiolo County on Wednesday, said that the exercise will bring together more than 20 conservation organisations across the country. The CS said that the survey will also be instrumental in identifying human-wildlife conflict pressure points, drought effects on wild species, and elephant poaching levels.
“Poaching cases in the country have reduced by up to 80 per cent since the enactment of Wildlife Conservation and Management Act of 2013 which has the highest penalties in the world,” said Prof. Wakhungu.
She said steady progress has been made in the fight against ivory trade following international cooperation.
“Domestic ivory trade in China will be terminated by December following successful deliberations with the Chinese government since the August 2013 State visit,” said Prof Wakhungu.
“With the United States, there were hiccups after President Trump recently indicated that the nation would allow importation of ivory especially from Zimbabwe but notable progress has been made in resolving the matter,” said Prof. Wakhungu.
The CS, who was flanked by Natural Resources Principal Secretary, Margaret Mwakima and KWS acting director Julius Kimani said that the 10-day exercise will also allow the government to establish where to map human settlements so that the communities can benefit from wildlife conservation.
She noted that the ministry expects an increase in the number of animals in the Shaba reserve this year after similar surveys conducted in Tsavo and Amboseli showed a population increase.
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