Nairobi: The elephant population in Kenya has increased at an approximate annual rate of 2.8 per cent over the last three decades, the state-owned Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) said on Sunday. The development is reported to be the fruit of the government's initiatives in controlling poaching.
"This success is attributed to enhanced government initiatives to combat poaching and trophy trafficking, and the continued collaboration with national and international partners to stop the trade in ivory," the WRTI said in a statement. Anyone caught poaching or smuggling wildlife in the country will end up in prison or have to pay a hefty fine.
WRTI added that there was a 96 per cent decline in poaching. According to the Xinhua news agency reports, more than 386 elephants lost their lives in 2013. It was 11 last year.
WRTI said that in addition to elephants being hunted, the increase in human population and subsequent change in land-tenure and land-use systems had led the elephants to lose their natural habitats, dispersal areas, and corridors. Ultimately this fired up the human-elephant conflict in the country.
"Today, human-elephant conflict and loss of elephant corridors and dispersal areas are the main challenges facing elephant conservation and management in Kenya," the WRTI said in the statement.