Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kenya's Elephants May Vanish in 10 Years, Warns Prominent Naturalist

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kenya's Elephants May Vanish in 10 Years, Warns Prominent Naturalist

Article excerpt

Kenya's elephants could be wiped out by poaching in 10 years, unless urgent measures are taken to end the crisis, International wildlife conservationists warned here this week.

A demand for ivory and rhino horns in the lucrative Asian black market has attracted cartels to Africa that are presently carrying- out cold blood killings of the animals, the conservationists say. In Kenya, the situation is at its worst now, according to Richard Leakey, an internationally famed paleontologist and founder of WildlifeDirect, a conservation charity.

"There has never been such a level of killing as we are experiencing today. Unless we do something now elephants will be gone from the wild within the next decade," says Dr. Leakey, speaking at a presentation in the Kenyan capital.

"I believe partnerships with private sectors are critical. We cannot afford any further delay and we have to be tough," Leakey added.

In 1979, when 1.2 million elephants roamed Africa, Kenya had 167,000, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Today, Africa has an estimated 300,000 pachyderms, representing about a 75 per cent loss since 1979, figures compiled by WildlifeDirect.

Between January and May of this year, 117 elephants and 21 rhinos have been killed by poachers. In 2012, 384 elephants were killed compared to 278 in 2011 and 178 in 2010, according to Kenyan figures and the British newspaper The Telegraph. The Kenyan agency says there are between 30,000 and 38,000 elephants now living in Kenya, although no physical count has been done. Some conservationists think this figure could be lower.

The warning came with the launch in Nairobi of a conservation partnership called Hands off our Elephants on July 24, that brings together government, private sector, activist and community groups and individuals. The initiative seeks to create awareness about poaching and demands an escalation of anti-poaching efforts. …

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