Drones to be used against elephant and rhino poachers in Kenya

The scheme comes alongside harsher penalties being used against poachers

The Kenyan Government is to use drones in its fight against elephant and rhino poachers, officials announced on Tuesday.

A new law will also see tougher penalties, including longer jail terms and larger fines, imposed on offenders in an attempt to curb the rising number of well-armed criminal gangs who kill elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns.

“We will start piloting the use of drones in the Tsavo National Park eco system, one of the largest national parks in the world,” said Patrick Omondi, deputy director for wildlife conservation at the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Omondi added that the surveillance aircraft would be imported, but did not give details of how many or at what cost.

 

Tsavo National Park in the southeast is Kenya's largest, with sweeping plains and occasional water holes dotted with wildlife, including elephants.

Conservationists hope the new law will deter criminal networks since Kenya has emerged as a major transit route for ivory destined for Asian markets from eastern and central Africa.

The government says poaching is also harming tourism, a major foreign exchange earner.

“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,” William Kiprono, Kenya Wildlife Service's acting Director General told a news conference in Nairobi.

18 rhinos and 51 elephants had been killed by poachers in Kenya so far this year, said Kiprono.

Last year, 59 rhinos and 302 elephants were killed, compared with 30 rhinos and 384 elephants in 2012.

Kenyan officers seized 13.5 tonnes of ivory at the port city of Mombasa last year, mostly originating from other countries in the region. At least 249 suspects have so far been arrested this year and prosecuted for various wildlife offences.

In January, a Kenyan court convicted a Chinese man of smuggling ivory and ordered him to pay a 20-million-shillings ($233,000) fine or serve seven years in jail in the first sentence handed out since Kenya introduced a new anti-poaching law.

The scheme comes amid work by the Space for Giants charity, which received over £450,000 in donations from Independent readers followings its 2013 Elephant Campaign. The money is being spent on projects in the field by the charity.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Read more: The role of Africa in halting supply of illegal ivory
‘I remember the way elephants scream as they die’
You donated the money, now we tell you how it will be spent
Moaning, screaming, dying: this is what poaching sounds like
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones