Kenya: The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) failed to contain elephant poaching, according to a research by KWS scientists and their American counterparts using satellite images.
The peer-reviewed research in the Australia-based Wildlife Research journal employed sophisticated techniques to accurately identify hotspots of elephant poaching. It used KWS records, Japanese government data as well as satellite images from the NASA.
According to the report, elephant poaching escalated between 1999 and 2002 but drastically reduced in 2003 only to rise sharply thereafter. “At the beginning of 2004, poaching levels rose sharply and eased only slightly in 2007 before rising sharply (again) in 2008 and 2009 to levels not seen in the 1990 to 1998 period.” Only 32 elephants were reported poached in the Tsavo Conservation Area between 1990 and 1998 but that the number rose by more than 700 percent to 236 elephants between 1999 and 2009.
The article, Spatio-temporal Patterns of Elephant Poaching in South-eastern Kenya, reported research was carried out by scientists from KWS and Miami University about poaching activities between 1990 and 2009.
The KWS has reportedly also reduced its support for clean water, health facilities and education bursaries around parks. “This support for community conservation programmes has been scaled down in recent years because of budgetary constraints,” stated the article. The researchers said that poachers operate in woodlands and avoid open grasslands. Such information could help KWS rangers to decide where to concentrate their anti-poaching activities especially if they used hand-held GPS gadgets “rather than approximation of poaching sites from topographic maps.”