The elephant population in Kenya is more than doubled between 1989 and 2018 due to strict measures against poaching. The minister of tourism of the East African country announced this today on World Elephant Day.
In 1989 Kenya had about 16,000 elephants. In 2018, that number rose to more than 34,000, according to Minister Najib Balala. “In recent years, we have managed to curb poaching in our country,” he told journalists on a visit to Amboseli National Park.
Seven elephants have already been poached in Kenya this year. Too many, of course, but a sharp drop from 2019 and 2018, when 34 and 80 elephants were killed for their tusks or skin, respectively.
Poaching in Kenya and other African countries has increased significantly in recent years: gangs hunt elephants and rhinoceroses to meet the Asian demand for ivory for use in “traditional” medicines.
In 2016, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to thousands of tusks and horns to make it clear to poachers and smugglers that their clandestine trade in animal parts must end.
The government has developed stricter sentences, namely longer prison sentences and higher fines, for anyone convicted of poaching or smuggling wild trophies. After all, according to the authorities, poaching is harmful to tourism, which brings a lot of foreign money to Kenya.
However, the Kenyan tourism industry is currently also suffering heavily from the corona pandemic: the number of foreign tourists in Kenya in 2020 and 2021 is expected to be 80 to 90 percent lower than normal.