On Dec. 17, 2018, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) launched a new kennel facility in Mombasa, Kenya. Under the Canines For Conservation program, Dr. Charles Musyoki, KWS Director General, alongside Dr. Philip Muruthi, AWF VP of Species Protection, officially opened the facility emphasizing on the importance of the program and the impact it has made in the past few years. KWS commissioned the facility with the aim to enhance the performance of the canine unit. The newly constructed kennels are spacious and well-ventilated to adapt to the coastal climate. The trained handlers have a new office space and proper housing within the compound.
Highlighting the fact that Kenya is officially off the CITES gang of 8 list, Dr. Muruthi says, "Mombasa still remains an area of concern in matters concerning illegal wildlife trade, however, with these improved facilities there is room for improvement. The illegal off-take of wildlife far exceeds the recruitment rate so far. As of 2016, the total population of elephants was 415,000 with an annual poaching rate of about 35,000. If we do nothing, in the next 10 years, there will be no elephants in Africa.”
Earlier this year, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) approved the decision to remove Kenya from a group of eight countries leading as source and transit points for illegal ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales shipped into Asia.
The move comes two years after the CITES secretariat recommended Kenya be de-listed after concerted efforts in the implementation of its National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP).
“Detection dogs have proven to us that they are a big part of the conservation agenda in Kenya. These dogs are true heroes and need to be in such a comfortable facility, and we thank AWF’s efforts in ensuring that the canine unit is better equipped to end illegal wildlife trade on a global scale,” KWS Director General, Dr. Charles Musyoki emphasized.
KWS was grateful for the lasting partnership AWF has offered over the years and are excited for what is yet to come in the near future.