No rhinos were poached in Kenya in 2020, the first time such a milestone was achieved in the East African country in more than two decades, the Kenya Wildlife Service said on Wednesday.
The announcement was made as the world marked World Wildlife Day, which is commemorated annually on March 3 to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
“For the first time in 21 years, KWS reported ZERO poaching of Rhinos in the year 2020. Rhino poaching has reduced from a high of 59 cases in 2013 when poaching was at its peak to Zero poaching in 2020. The last time this feat was achieved was in 1999,” the wildlife agency tweeted.
The wildlife agency said it had undertaken a number of measures to reduce poaching, especially strengthening anti-poaching and intelligence-led law enforcement operations. It has also boosted collaboration with stakeholders, law enforcement agencies and local communities to minimize poaching.
In addition to that, security teams have improved patrols within wildlife habitats and dispersal areas, collection and dissemination of intelligence in hot-spot areas and maintained elaborate ground network coverage to detect and deter any threats to wildlife.
KWS Director General Brig. (Rtd) John Waweru, who spoke in an interview with a local TV station on Wednesday, said the next target of the wildlife agency is to achieve such a feat with elephants.
“We have achieved zero poaching for rhinos and are working towards zero poaching for elephants. Kenyans should support our efforts and most importantly visit our parks. You can now adopt rhinos and we will soon be naming elephants,” Waweru told Citizen TV.
“We do not like losing animals but for the first time we lost 11 elephants to poaching, which is a major achievement as it has never happened in KWS history, we have been losing over 340 elephants a year,” he added.
Kenya is the latest African country this year to report a decline in rhino poaching after Namibia and Botswana.
Africa’s rhino population had registered significant declines in past decades to cater to the demand for rhino horn, which is highly valued in East Asia as a supposed medicine and as jewellery.