Stakeholders in Kenya's tourism sector on Tuesday held peaceful demonstrations in the coastal city of Mombasa over unprecedented killing of rhinos and elephants in the East African nation.
The stakeholders drawn from, Mombasa and Coast tourist associations, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers, Kenya Association of Tour Operators, Wildlife Club and Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) held demonstrations in the city streets carrying anti poaching placards.
"Our magnificent elephants are being wiped out; rhinos are also being decimated at alarming rate which cannot just be wished away, " Mombasa Coast and Tourist Association chairman Mohammesd Hersi said.
He said the continued killing of elephants and rhinos across the country are of great concern the tourism sector, Kenya's the second largest foreign exchange earner, added Hersi.
The stakeholders revealed that in the Mara National Park over 90 big old bull elephants have been killed in the recent months.
"Without the big old tusks, we lose a vital tourism attraction and there are no good breeding left to improve the genetic diversity of elephants," Hersi said.
The conservationists have also decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant ivory, which they said, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.
These syndicates, they said, have employed cutting-edge technologies and sophisticated methods to poach, then illegally traffic, wildlife parts off the continent, making wildlife protection difficult, dangerous, and expensive.
Rampant poaching incidents have forced Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to embrace the use of modern technologies under its force modernization program to counter the problem and other poaching- related threats.
KWS says it has introduced the Canine Unit with sniffer dogs on a 24-hour basis at the Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa to detect movements of illegal ivory. The unit has since 2009 netted more than 10 tons of raw and worked ivory.
This, according to the wildlife agency, has effectively led to reduced smuggling of illegal trophies. Plans are at an advanced stage by KWS to also introduce sniffer dogs at the Eldoret International Airport as well as other exit and entry points.
Stiffer penalties related to wildlife crime have been incorporated under the newly enacted wildlife law to deter poaching-related cases and incidents in Kenya.
Tourism is the second highest income earner in the country contributing over 13 percent of the GDP.
"We demand stringent actions to those behind the trade to be charged under the economic crime act an existing legislation which provides for much heavier penalties," said Sam Ikwaye executive director Hotelkeepers Association Coast region.
They further appealed to the government to allocate more funding to KWS who continue to lose rangers killed in the line of duty by poachers armed with more sophisticated weapons.
KWS Director William Kiprono said last year saw the highest number of elephants killed in the country with 384 elephants and 19 rhinos felled as compared to 2011 in which 289 elephants and 29 rhinos were killed.
"The price of ivory and rhino horns continues to rise in the black market leading to increased poaching of elephants and rhinos, " he said.
The stakeholders stated that they will insist in the on ban of ivory trade in the Far East.
"If these countries hang drug dealers they should be made to meet the same punishment to ivory smugglers and trade," Hersi said.
Kenya Revenue Authority on Jan. 16 seized 638 pieces of ivory estimated to be worth 100 million shillings at the port of Mombasa. Endi