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Wednesday 19 November 2008 | Kenya feed | All feeds


Kenya fears threat to rhinos after killings


AT least four endangered black rhinos have been killed by poachers in Kenya, the first such incident in eight years.

It is feared that the toll could be even higher and that nearly a decade of relative security for the animals is over. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said yesterday that it was on full alert after the killings in the enormous Tsavo East national park.

Conservationists said they believed dozens of the park's 50 black rhinos could have been killed, but their carcasses had not been found. "It is an eye-opener for us," said Connie Maina, a KWS spokesman. "It is the beginning of poaching again. We have declared a state of high alert."

Kenya's elephant and rhino population was almost wiped out in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1970, Kenya had 20,000 rhinos, a third of Africa's total population, but today there are just 460 left alive. Tsavo East's 8,000-strong population was entirely wiped out, but the KWS began reintroducing the animal three years ago.

Poaching was almost single-handedly eliminated in the early 1990s by Kenya's former wildlife chief, Richard Leakey, who persuaded the world community to ban the international trade in ivory and convinced President Daniel arap Moi to institute a shoot-to-kill policy on suspected poachers in national parks.

The KWS said it had arrested two people of Somali origin and recovered three fresh-looking rhino horns.



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