Horny rhinos can’t take the heat!

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One day - Johnson Ngatia Gitonga

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Got you with the title right? Yes it is true, horny Rhinos can’t take the heat in the parks because poachers are after their horns.

When we were young we only saw wildlife on TV or at the animal orphanage. We never really thought about wildlife in terms of conservation. We knew we had them; we saw them on TV or read books about them. In those days going to the parks was something tourists did. Our idea of a holiday was to go to the rural area or the beach. Things have changed in the last 20 or so years. Kenyans are now going on safaris to see wildlife.

I have always loved animals. Blame it on being a city kid whose grandparents had a farm in Nairobi. I liked wildlife but I didn’t really think about the idea that one day they might not be there. They say you never appreciate the things you have or the people in your life until they are gone and maybe it is true. It is only when I completed high school that I realized how much money the tourism sector brings in. This is when I realized that the reason our wildlife is so valuable is because in many countries in the west and east many species of wildlife have become extinct.

Once upon a time (up to the early 20th century) it was fashionable to kill animals for sport (trophies), for medicine (allegedly rhino horns are a cure for diseases) and for jewelry (ivory). It was all fun and games until many animal species became extinct or came close to extinction. Then a war cry started over conservation of wildlife.

In Kenya we have been famous for the big five which include the Elephant and the Rhino. But those two are threatened by greedy poachers and even greedier customers. This year alone Kenya has lost 14 Rhinos. Out of this number 11 have been killed by poachers and another 3 have died of natural causes. Last year 59 Rhinos were killed by poachers and in 2012 there were 30 Rhinos killed according to the Kenya Wildlife Service.

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Our rhinos are under threat. Some of the concerns around the killing of the rhinos include:

  • There are allegations that some government officials including game wardens may be facilitating the trade or trading in rhino horns.
  • Game wardens are not paid enough and this may encourage some of them to look away when poachers go into the game parks.
  • The communities living near these animals may either host poachers or get money to poach or they may know the poachers but are too scared to speak out.
  • There have been proposals to paint the horns of the Rhinos and Elephant tusks to “spoil” them so that poachers don’t kill them. This is an expensive exercise which the government doesn’t seem to want to take up.

We need the government to take action on this issue. Our Rhinos and Elephants are part of the heritage we will leave our children. It is not enough for the government to pledge support for our wildlife. They need to take action.

There are groups trying to make sure our heritage is saved not just for us but for our children. You can do something as well. Can each one of you please send @Ukenyatta a tweet with ‪#‎MrPresidentStopPoaching‬ along with any of the pictures in this post, so that he can at least break his silence and do something about it?

Let us have something to show our children when we go to the park. Let us save our heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Read more on this issue here
http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2014/02/number-of-rhinos-killed-in-kenya-on-the-rise/
http://www.news24.co.ke/MyNews24/Authorities-must-take-action-to-end-poaching-20140319
http://www.news24.co.ke/National/News/Police-arrest-3-suspected-poachers-over-rhino-killing-20140317

One day -  Johnson Ngatia Gitonga
One day – Johnson Ngatia Gitonga
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