The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has resorted to the use of surveillance drones to curb the poaching of elephants and rhinos in Kenya’s National Parks. Speaking at a press conference yesterday at the KWS Headquarters in Nairobi, the KWS Deputy Director of Security, Julius Kimani, said the surveillance drones are already being considered for acquisition but appealed for funding to supply the aircraft which will be imported.
“These drones will help us cover a huge area in a short period of time compared to a battalion of rangers, which would take up to a month. This is economical as it will reduce wear and tear, cost of fuel for vehicles, feeding the rangers and save a lot of time,” said Julius Kimani of KWS.
According to the statistics given by the KWS officials, 18 rhinos and 51 elephants to poachers have so far been killed by poachers this year alone. Last year, 59 rhinos and 302 elephants were killed, compared with 30 rhinos and 384 elephants in 2012.
“We attribute the problem of poaching in Kenya and other African states to growing demand and high prices offered for rhino horn and elephant ivory in the Far East countries,” said William Kiprono, KWS acting Director General.
The drone surveillance project which is set for a pilot at the Tsavo National Park is seen as a huge step to help neutralize poacher attacks on endangered elephant and rhino wildlife. Other technologies employed by the KWS to curb poaching include use of GPS collars, microchips embedded in the animal horns and tusks and aircraft surveillance.
“In our force modernization project we have tried using satellite collars on our endangered species to help keep track of them. We have also fitted microchips on rhino horns in a bid to track trafficking of the horns, not forgetting the use of aircrafts fitted with cameras and GPS tracking systems,” said Patrick Omondi, KWS deputy director of wildlife conservation.