Poaching has been on the increase in National parks not only in East Africa but the whole African continent. The mostly targeted animals include; elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Zebras and wildebeests. Poaching has been rampant due to the fact that the affected protected areas are all closer to settler communities with increasing pressure on land to grow food crops, the poachers hunt game for meat and for sale. The activity has also been on the increase because it has become a lucrative business and the poachers also use dangerous weapons.
Uganda’s minister for tourism, wildlife and antiquities, Hon. Minister Maria Mutagamba while speaking to the media on September 11, 2012 said that even with the isolated incidents of poaching, the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s last large mammal census revealed that the elephant numbers for Queen Elizabeth national park had increased from 400 in 1988 to 2,959 in 2010, the population of buffaloes also rose from 5,000 to 14,858 in the same period and hippos from 2,200 to 5,024.
Various methods have been adopted to curb down on this vice. In Uganda, there has been an introduction of the Uganda Tourism police, which is also assisted by the Uganda army. According to the acting director, tourism and business services at Uganda Wild life Authority (UWA) Mr. Stephen Sanyi Masaba, they are recruiting 300 more rangers to perk up the force while plans for an intelligence force are underway.
According to SENAPA’s acting Chief Park warden Mr. Godson Kimaro, the Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA) has started using sniffer dogs as well as aircrafts to augment anti-poaching efforts in the park. TANAPA also employs the Anti-poaching and Outreach Department which supports community initiated projects in the surrounding villages.
In Kenya, the Kenya wildlife Service (KWS) has launched a five-year conservation and management strategy for the black rhino, this has been done by raising the rhino ranger force by more than 25 percent, changing rhino scouts on private lands into Kenya Police Reservists, offering formal training of community scouts in wildlife protection, using sniffer dogs for monitoring and relocating rhinos from areas of high risk to areas of low risk. KWS director Julius Kipng’etich also gave a strict warning to poachers that KWS would deal severely with them and do what it takes to protect the country’s wildlife.