On February 29, 2016, four administrative police officers in Kenya were arrested after they were found in possession of ivory. This effort of curbing illegal ivory and poaching in general on the part of the Kenya Wild Life Service, the body that is in charge of conserving and protecting wild animals in the country goes into the list of many efforts that have been put into place by both the security forces and KWS to eradicate this poaching vice. Poaching and exploitation of Ivory trade remain one of the greatest threats to the existence of elephants and other wildlife in the country in the country; a vice that has existed and been illegal since that 1970’s. Today, despite the war on poaching being sparked up in every sense of the word, it is still not rare to hear about arrests at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or cargo leaving the country via the sea and being intercepted for containing ivory and other wild game.
What this clearly indicates is that despite close to 50 years of war on poaching; it is still practiced and in as much as the country boasts of numerous national parks and wild life conservancies and reserves, wild animals in the country continues to be at risk. This can be translated to mean that there is need for more vigilance in order to curb poaching and protect wild animals which make a bulk of Kenya’s tourism interests without which, foreign exchange will drastically fall.
Kenya’s case is not isolated as all of Africa is decrying poaching and the effects of it. In South Africa for example, statistics showed that about 1004 rhinos were killed in 2013 alone.
Why must wild animals be protected from poachers? What is it that makes the survival of wild animal in Kenya and Africa important?
a) Diminished foreign exchange for the communities.
Experts project that if the illegal poaching continues, elephants will be extinct by the end of the next decade. According to this article on the devastating effects of wildlife poaching a community that relies on wildlife to attract tourists is at a greater risk of economic hardship if the prevalence of poaching is high.
Vigilance should be made the responsibility of each member of the community and should come forward with the information whenever they suspect poaching. Education is also important so that people at the grassroots and everyone in general understand why they need to protect wild animals. Wildlife poaching is a crime.
b) Poaching affects the balance in nature
The presence of animals in the environment contributes to the balance that is vital in nature and enables it to function properly. When the animal population is harmed, this in turn hurts the other areas of the ecosystem such as the forests that rely on these animals for their survival as well as other animals and human beings that depend on these animals in one way or another. These animals also supply nutrients to some plants which would be depleted if the population of these animals goes down.
c) Health risks
Although it is not widely talked about, there are many untold health risks that coming in contact with wild animals poses. The outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong has been traced to the human contact with and consumption of poached meat available on black wildlife markets. Other diseases that have been linked to the consumption of primates include Ebola, Bird Flu, Monkey pox and Heartwater disease.
d) The politics of animal poaching
The Chief Executive of Wildlife Direct argues that there is indeed a crisis in wildlife in the country but what does not sit well is the continued silence of the African leaders to the crisis. An article in the Guardian argues that African leaders could do more by marshalling political support, supporting good indigenous organizations and forging mentoring partnerships. While poaching of animals continues to kill many aspects of growth on the African continent, there is continued loss of confidence in the ability of these African leaders to take care of their own.