Kenya, S. Africa mull cooperation in wildlife conservation

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Kenyan and South African governments are holding talks over possible areas of cooperation over wildlife conservation and management in the wake of increased cases of poaching across the world.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Friday that a delegation from South African Department of Environmental Affairs is in the country on an official working visit to elaborate on the details of the proposed areas of cooperation.

"Poaching is not just a South African and Kenyan problem. It has now become a global issue. We cannot succeed in the fight against poaching unless we all work together," head of the South African delegation, Dr. Moscow Marumo, said.

Marumo said there is need to tackle matters dealing with conservation and wildlife security jointly and share intelligence in order to overcome wildlife crimes across the continent.

The visit came on the back of an alarming dwindling of wildlife numbers in the East African nation, due to runaway poaching activities in national parks.

In particular, there has been a marked increase of elephant poaching in the last 24 months which reached a crescendo with the massacre of a family of 12 elephants in a remote part of the Tsavo East National Park early this year.

Concern is growing amongst conservationists that the endangered African elephant is currently grappling with what could be the worst crisis to ever hit them since 1989 when international commercial trade in ivory was prohibited.

A recently released report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) indicated that elephant poaching levels were the worst in a decade and recorded ivory seizures are at their highest levels since 1989.

In Kenya, which experts consider a key gateway for ivory smuggling rings leaving Africa, there have been several incidents of ivory seizures and recovery of wildlife carcasses in recent days.

Kenya and South Africa are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at a later date. The MoU has been drafted to promote cooperation between the two countries in the field of biodiversity management, conservation and protection, law enforcement, compliance with the CITES and other relevant legislation and conventions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

"The partnership is set to involve sharing of information on arrest and seizures of contraband wild animals parts and their products, DNA profiling to determine the origin of the wild animals or their parts, legal and policy framework, capacity building, sharing of best practices in wildlife and national parks management and consultations in multilateral forums related to environmental governance and sustainable development," KWS said in the statement.

During the meeting, Marumo expressed confidence that South Africa and Kenya will speak with one voice during the upcoming CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP) in Bangkok, Thailand next month.

Kenya will be pushing for five amendments to global wildlife conservation treaties in the wake of increased poaching of elephants, rhinos and cheetahs.

The most notable proposal which Kenya jointly submitted with Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali, pushes for a requirement that no application for ivory trade will be submitted during the life of the existing moratorium.

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