Elephants and rhinos are at risk of becoming extinct in the next five years if the current rate of poaching is not arrested.

This is after it emerged that more than 250 elephants were killed by poachers this year alone.

Though there were few arrests made, the dealers were still at large and engaging more suppliers daily.

The Kenya Wildlife Service deputy director in charge of devolution and community services, Mr Benjamin Kavu, said his organisation was unable to contain the problem on its own.

Integrated efforts

He said that what was needed were integrated efforts involving communities to protect the threatened national heritage.

Speaking at the Lumo Wildlife Sanctuary in Mwatate during the closing of this year’s series of the Eye Go Game Spotting, Mr Kavu said it was time wildlife conservation was included in the school syllabus for everyone to understand what it means to have elephants and rhinos alive in the country.

He blamed foreigners seeking ivory for the rise in poaching.

“Some foreigners are using some bad boys and girls among us to destroy the national heritage,” he said.

Mr Kavu urged residents to take advantage of the wildlife corridor between the two Tsavos and Shimba Hills to benefit from tourism.

This would be done after negotiations with the ranch owners, whose land is used as a dispersal area for the animals, to establish tourism facilities and develop an integrated wildlife and livestock plan to reap maximum benefits from both.

His remarks come as hoteliers face a sharp decline in bookings, saying, safari tourism was the most affected.

Tsavo and Amboseli Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association chairman Willie Mwadilio said they were grappling with decreasing numbers of safari adventures, which they rely on most.

This, he said, was because there were few wild animals in the park compared to livestock, a situation that did not augur well with tourism.

“In Taita Taveta, where we depend on charters, the effect has been enormous after the bed occupancy declined from 43 to 14, which has to be distributed among the lodges in the park,” he said.

However, Lions Bluff Lodge chief executive Ian Leckie said it was high time the Tourism ministry did sufficient promotion of domestic tourism to sustain the sector.