Kenya threatens to take over private game reserves

The Kenyan government has issued a warning to private game reserves and conservancies to tackle the poaching issue or the Kenya Wildlife Services will take over the running of the parks. The ultimatum was issued as the number of rhino poached in Kenya so far this years hits 15 and the number of elephants poached is 10.

While a number of rhino have been killed in government-run national parks and game reserves the increase in poaching – particularly of black rhino – in private conservancies is worrying government officials.

A speech was read out earlier by Deputy Director In charge of Wildlife Conservation, Mr Patrick Omondi, Lesiyampe on behalf of Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural resources Dr Richard Lesiyampe. In it the warning was issued that if security measures at private reserves were not bolstered then the government will step in.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has already been ordered to step in and provide additional security measures at those private game reserves deemed to be failing in security. There will also be an urgent review of security and related matters at all private game reserves in the country.

Dr Lesiyampe explained that security and related resources will be mobilized from all national security agencies. “We are moving with speed to provide such support to ensure round the clock surveillance and related resources are provided through the ground security forces including the regular and administration police,”

“We have also stepped up intelligence gathering and security enforcement. Any unscrupulous persons found within the precincts of any protected reserve handling endangered wildlife species will be, dealt with firmly,” he said.

While many conservationists are welcoming the new resources being offered to private game reserves to boost security and protection of rhinos some are concerned that the threat to take over the running of private game reserves is excessive and un-needed. Other believe that following a number of rhino poaching incidents in high-profile national reserves such as the 2 rhino lost this year at Nairobi means that it is the Kenya Wildlife Service that needs a security audit and not private game reserves.

Kenya is beginning to feel the impact of increased security measures being undertaken in South Africa. Poachers are beginning to seek easier targets in other counties such as Kenya in order to meet an increasing demand for rhino horn.

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