Kenya launches elephant conservation strategy
A ten-year plan aimed at protecting Kenya's elephant population has been launched by the country's leading wildlife body.
Kenya's tourism industry is vital the country's economy, with its wildlife a major draw for visitors on trips to Africa.
But there has been a worrying increase in poaching of elephants of late, with 278 of the animals lost to poachers last year, compared to 177 in 2010.
In response, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), in collaboration with conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and other leading wildlife organisations from around the world, has launched a comprehensive new strategy which it says "provides a clear roadmap for conservation and management of elephants in Kenya".
The strategy focuses in conservation in several key locations, such as dispersal areas, migration corridors and human-elephant conflict hotspots.
As well as introducing increased protection and anti-poaching measures, the strategy also seeks to engage communities living adjacent to protected areas on the importance of protecting the species through education and awareness.
Rajan Amin, a senior conservation biologist at the ZSL, commented: "As well as tackling the pressing issue of poaching, overcoming the challenges associated with Kenya's growing human population will be essential if we are to secure a safe and lasting future for this national treasure."
There are an estimated 37,000 elephants living in Kenya, an increase from 35,000 on 2010.
But under the new strategy, it is hoped that an increase in the elephant population of three per cent per year can be sustained.
It also calls for increased cross-border cooperation with other countries with significant elephant populations in enforcement and monitoring of illegal hunting and trade in ivory.
Kenyan elephant coordinator Dr Shadrack Ngene said: "The elephant is a keystone species and maintaining a healthy population is vital to the long term ecological integrity of its entire habitat.
"Feeding from the strategy's seven key objectives, specific actions and measurable targets will now begin to be implemented at both local and national level to help maintain and grow elephant populations in Kenya."