National carrier Kenya Airways and international wildlife charity Born Free Foundation have boosted the fight against rhino poaching in Kenya with a donation of surveillance equipment and funds for training to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
The donated equipment includes tents, GPS trackers and binoculars. This is in addition to a KSh350,000 cheque that will go towards training rangers in the KWS Rhino Monitoring Team
Speaking during the handover of the equipment and the cheque at KWS Headquarters, Kenya Airways’ Marketing Director Chris Diaz said that the donation demonstrated commitment by the airline, and its partner, Born Free Foundation, to support conservation of wildlife.
“The fight against wildlife poaching requires concerted efforts from all of us. This is the reason Kenya Airways has chosen to get involved in supporting KWS to fight this vice through skills improvement and equipment,” Mr Diaz added.
On his part, the Kenya Country Manager of Born Free Foundation, Tim Oloo said: “Working together is the only way to succeed in our joint mission to protect and conserve Kenya’s – and indeed the world’s – wildlife heritage for future generations. Rhino are symbolic of that heritage – an ancient species whose current plight is entirely as a result of human greed, superstition and ignorance. It is our responsibility and duty to ensure that this amazing creature is not lost on our watch. That is why, in partnership with our good friends at Kenya Airways, and as part of the Change Brings Change programme, we are delighted to be making this strategic contribution to the professional efforts of the dedicated KWS rhino team to enable them to carry out their live-saving job to the very best of their ability”.
The donation was received by Julius Kimani, the deputy director of KWS, who lauded the two organizations for the support.
Mr Kimani added: “This equipment and training for rangers will greatly support the conservation of rhinos, which presently face a huge threat from poachers, who are after their horns. Last year, we lost 59 rhinos to poachers; and 26 rhinos so far this year. This challenge is surmountable with this kind of support from Kenya Airways and the Born Free Foundation”.
Conservation and management strategy for black rhinos in Kenya overall goal is that black rhinos are projected to increase by atleast 5% pa to reach a confirmed total of 750 rhinos by end of 2016.
Available evidence indicates that the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 witnessed the highest levels of poaching since the poaching crisis of the 1980’s. For example Kenya lost 47 elephants and 5 rhinos to poaching in 2007 as compared to 384 and 30 in 2012, and 302 elephants and 59 rhinos in 2013 respectively.
In October 2013, Kenya Airways and the Born Free Foundation unveiled a new initiative to raise funds for wildlife conservation causes throughout the world dubbed ‘Change Brings Change’.