Elephant poaching has continued unabated and this is threatening the tourism industry, one of Kenya’s biggest foreign exchange earners.
Only about 30,000 elephants exist in the country, down from 170,000 about 30 years ago. Although measures have been put in place to prevent this illegal activity, elephant poaching has been on the rise in recent times. Elephants are being killed for their tusks, which often wind up in Far East countries for use in jewellery, tools, sculptures, and medicines. Last year, about 13 tonnes of ivory were impounded at the port of Mombasa. Earlier this month, Kenyan authorities seized 300 elephant tusks in a warehouse in Mombasa.
Fighting the illegal animal trade is thus a priority for the Kenya Government, which is now imposing punitive measures, such as prolonged jail terms and larger fines on the poachers. The Government, with the help of multi-nationals, has also launched plans to use drones to monitor all its 52 national parks.
Elephants are the largest land mammals and one of the longest living species in the world. Research, however, shows that these captivating species could be headed for extinction. Since the beginning of time, there have been more than 150 species of elephants documented.
Today, only the African and Asian elephants are known to be the surviving species and poaching along with habitat destruction continues to threaten them.
Because ivory is so valuable in some regions, tens of thousands of these already endangered species are killed every year for their tusks, causing their populations to decline dramatically. At current poaching levels, scientists believe elephants could be extinct in just 12 years.
Africa, especially Kenya, is home to most of the elephants that exist today. During the 1970s, an estimated 1.3 million elephants were in Africa but only about 350,000 remain mainly due to the spreading of deserts and poaching.
A previous study also indicates that an elephant is killed every 15 minutes in Africa.