Kenya's stockpile has increased by 3,085 ivory and rhino horn wildlife trophy pieces since the end of 2019
An NTV news report indicates that Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, has recently completed an audit of its ivory stockpile.
The television news story revealed that Kenya Wildlife Service is presently holding in its secured facility 17,800 pieces of ivory weighing 86 tonnes and 388 rhino horn pieces weighing 785 kilogrammes. This represents a 20% increase from what was last audited in 2019.
In April 2016, Kenya burned 106 tonnes of its ivory and rhino horn stockpile, leaving approximately 25 tonnes for ‘educational’ purposes.
At the end of 2019, the stockpile held 14,802 ivory pieces and 291 rhino horn. This indicates an increase of 2,998 pieces of ivory and 97 pieces of rhino horn. There is no weight documented with these amounts so a complete picture cannot be formulated.
Since 2019, Kenya’s official poaching figures remain opaque. KWS reported that in 2020, 11 elephants were poached. They never published a figure for 2021. In July 2022, then Tourism and Wildlife cabinet secretary, Najib Balala reported that 9 elephants had been poached in the previous 8 months. The context of that interview was relating to the large number of elephants that had died as a result of the drought.
KWS reported that for the year 2020, no rhinos were poached at all. Rhino poaching figures for 2021 were never officially announced by KWS although WWF announced in 2022 that six rhinos had been poached in Kenya in 2021.
The 3085 piece increase in stockpiled ivory and rhino horn over a two year period does not appear to align with the perception of serious poaching declines in recent times. In particular, an accumulation of 97 rhino horn pieces in two years could be cause for concern. It does have to be remembered, however, that the ivory and rhino horn that makes its way to the KWS secured stockpile also comes from animals who have died from natural causes or who have been put down by KWS through life threatening human-wildlife conflict. The drought throughout much of Kenya over the last year would certainly have had an impact on these numbers as well.
Again, without weight referrals, stockpile comparisons between 2019 and 2021 are essentially meaningless. Perhaps that is the point?
The gazette notice to which the NTV report refers, is not yet accessible online at the time of writing.