The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has been involved in 2 operations against poachers in the last 5 days which has seen 4 killed, dozens arrested and a range of ivory and weapons seized.
When William Kiprono took over as director of the Kenya Wildlife Service a couple of weeks ago there was an element of surprise and concern that such a high-profile position should be awarded to a relatively unknown career administrator. Any concerns raised though have firmly been put to rest as Kiprono leads the KWS in to a more pro-active fight against the poachers.
In the first operation on Monday 2 poachers were killed and 24kg of ivory recovered together with firearms and ammunition. KWS rangers discovered 4 poachers stripping an elephant of its tusks in the Meru National Park. During the ensuing gunfight 2 of the poachers were killed and the other escaped despite being injured.
The second incident occurred early this morning when a ranger patrol encountered 3 poachers in the Solio Ranch near Mweiga Township, Nyeri County. The range is home to both white and rare black rhino. The poachers had shot and injured a rhino before being disturbed by the ranger patrol. In the encounter 2 of the poachers were killed and the third one escaped. The rhino is currently being treated by vets.
The last week has also seen a large number of arrests including a Chinese and a Congolese trying to take ivory out of Kenya through airports. With the KWS canine unit now working around the clock there is more chance of customs intercepting smugglers as they head out the country.
In total over the last week 40 people have been arrested in Kenya for smuggling or poaching activities. There has also been seizures of 82kg of raw ivory, rifles and ammunition.
It has been a good start for the new Director and if poachers thought they’d get an easy ride with a new face in command then they have just discovered that Director William Kiprono is not someone to dismiss.