Covid Hunger - Kenyans Forced To Hunt Giraffe For Food

Hoas

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Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/giraffe-covid-threat-kenya-hunger/


Covid hunger
Kenyans forced to hunt giraffe for food


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Lockdown in Kenya has left millions unemployed and hungry. Now some are hunting endangered animals to survive. Reporting by Will Brown, Africa Correspondent. Pictures by Simon Townsley in Tsavo, Kenya


In parts of Kenya, the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic has been so catastrophic that people have started to kill endangered wildlife for food.

Last week, The Telegraph trekked with rangers through the Tsavo conservation area, a region larger than Wales in southeastern Kenya, and found a Masai giraffe which had been stripped bare by poachers for bushmeat.

“They have really done a hell of a job on this one,” muttered a ranger when we came across the mass of bloodied bones, organs and skinned hide. “They’ve even cut the meat out from in-between his ribs.”


In life, just hours earlier, the fully grown bull would have weighed about two and a half tonnes and stood almost 20ft off the ground. Its legs would have been strong enough to kick in a lion’s chest. But now there was almost nothing left.

Three to four poachers probably surrounded the giraffe at night and used flashlights and horns to stun it, like a giant rabbit in headlights. Then one would have hacked at its hamstrings with a machete to bring it down, the rangers said.

A cruel gash underneath the giraffe’s neck is where they dealt the final blow.

About a tonne of meat was cut off the beast — worth an estimated $1,000 — and wheeled away on bicycles to be eaten at home and sold in local markets as beef. Even its testicles were cut off and taken, most probably to be used in a traditional Chinese remedy for erectile dysfunction.


Much of Africa’s conservation work relies on rich international tourists flying in to gawk at beasts through oversized cameras and rarely used binoculars.

Their wads of dollars bills, park fees, rich diets, and luxury 4x4 safari tours boost the local economy, create jobs for rural communities, help to pay for conservation work and disincentivise poaching.

But in late March, as the pandemic began to rage through Europe, Kenya’s government all but sealed the country off from the outside world and implemented a draconian lockdown preventing travel between different regions.


The tourist sector — worth about 9 per cent of Kenya’s GDP — was effectively wiped out overnight. Hundreds of safari lodges, which would normally rake in more than $1,000 a night per guest, laid off staff off en masse.

By late June, the country’s Tourism Ministry said that more than 80 per cent of the country’s tourism operators had put their staff on unpaid leave.’

“I’ve never seen anything like it. There has been no business and no money. Even the children aren’t going to school. I was not paid for months. All you could do is stay at home and eat what you can,” says Peter Maithya, a hotel worker at Ngutuni Lodge in Tsavo East.


“[Since the tourists left], poverty has gone up. House break-ins have gone up. Young people are stealing goats and chickens. There are a lot of school dropouts and teenage pregnancies,” laments Peter Rangi, a chief in Tsavo’s Marungu Ward.

Mr Rangi points towards a teenage girl sitting with three male relatives outside his ramshackle office and explains that her family have brought her to ask for his advice.

“There is nothing to eat, so the girl has gone and done bad things for money to get food for her grandfather,” he says. “We are very worried about what will happen if this crisis goes on.”


Now wildlife conservationists say that commercial poaching and bushmeat hunting are surging in many parts of Kenya, as many rural communities, who have received almost no help from the government, struggle to feed themselves.

“Since April the destruction has gone up tremendously. We have reported cases of poaching in areas that have never seen incidents before,” says Eric Sagwe, head ranger at Wildlife Works, a conservation company working across Tsavo.

Mr Sagwe commands a team of 100 rangers who patrol half a million acres by car, foot and gyrocopter, tracking poachers and illegal loggers. The same day they found the giraffe they also found an elephant which had been killed by a poison arrow and had its tusks hacked off, something they have not seen in two and half years.

Mr Sagwe says that they are finding new animal snares almost every day and that many people have also started to cut down protected forests in the area to make charcoal.

“People are looking for money any way they can,” he adds.


The problem is not just confined to Tsavo. In July, the Mara Elephant Project, an NGO, recorded the highest levels of illegal logging and charcoal making since it was founded and an “alarming’ increase in bushmeat poaching in Kenya’s Mau Forest.

“From what I’ve seen since the beginning of Covid, a great deal of tourism staff have been laid off, and at exactly the same there has been an increase in poaching,” says Geoff Mayes, who has worked as a private safari guide across Eastern and Southern Africa for 28 years.

“Bushmeat hunting happens anyway. But there has been a significant rise across Kenya. People are resorting to dramatic measures to put food on the table. We are also hearing similar reports from Zimbabwe and Zambia,” adds Mr Mayes.


Kenya reopened its airspace at the beginning of this month, hoping international tourists would flock back to see the great annual migration of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle across the plains of the Masai Mara into Tanzania. But sadly they have stayed away despite covid-secure measures having been put in place.

Ole Koile, a Masai Mara ranger in a Manchester United mask, mans a checkpoint into the park. He says that barely any cars have come in for months.

One luxury bush camp manager in the Mara told The Telegraph that many lodges were still closed and that those which have opened were operating at a 10 per cent capacity and charging a fraction of their standard rates.


For Sergeant Philip Kursa and Constable Paul Sameri, rangers on the Masai Mara, the dire lack of tourists is doubly bad. “When we don’t have all these [tourist] cars driving everywhere, it means we have fewer eyes on the ground. It means we have to be everywhere,” they say.

Back at the Tsavo, ranger Simon Kipsang slowly picks his way through the bloodied remains, bends down and gently puts his hand on the giraffe’s head.

“This animal had no natural enemies,” he says softly. “I feel a lot of pain.”
 

Rick Cox

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Wow. That took balls! Those guys were hungry. Hope they didn't get hurt.
 

flatwater bill

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Wow! I thought all Kenyans were vegans! And that the only animals ever killed were shot by Satan's Army: The trophy hunter. What could possibly go wrong when the tourists that Kenya and the UK Media hate sooooo much, stopped paying for it all?
....."rich overfed tourists gawking at beasts thru oversized cameras and rarely used binoculars"......that pretty much sums up what they think of the people that foot the bill for their lifestyle. Another UK Media piece of drivel. But I actually kind of liked this one............thanks for posting...............................FWB
 

Kevin Peacocke

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I just don't buy the 'forced' bit. When there are no cattle or goats left this argument has some substance, but the bottom line is that game is free, so they prefer to kill that. Which reinforces our whole argument - if game isnt given a value through hunting fees and its industry, then it is not just free, it has no value to the people. So of course they will just kill it. And they do.
 

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Hank2211

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If you had lost your job, had no prospects of finding another one, and had hungry mouths to feed around the table, would you send your daughters out to "work" as prostitutes, or would you go next door and get the food you need? I don't think any of us, living in the West, would do anything different.

That said, killing elephants for ivory is just organized crime, using the virus as cover.

Last comment. I note that the giraffe is said to be endangered. The IUCN states that the species is vulnerable, not endangered. And that is essentially a function of location and sub-species. Giraffe are not endangered nor vulnerable in Southern Africa where they have value. These are the threats listed to giraffe:

Four major threats to Giraffes can be identified, although the severity and presence of these threats varies by region and population: (1) habitat loss (through deforestation, land use conversion, expansion of agricultural activities and human population growth) (2) civil unrest (ethnic violence, rebel militias, paramilitary and military operations), (3) illegal hunting (poaching), and (4) ecological changes (mining activity, habitat conversion to agriculture, climate-induced processes).

Legal hunting is not among these threats.

Thanks for posting.
 

Rick Cox

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I just don't buy the 'forced' bit. When there are no cattle or goats left this argument has some substance, but the bottom line is that game is free, so they prefer to kill that. Which reinforces our whole argument - if game isnt given a value through hunting fees and its industry, then it is not just free, it has no value to the people. So of course they will just kill it. And they do.
I was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern British Colombia. We were poor. There was no way we could afford to eat beef and never did. All meat was 'bush meat' most of it I shot. Those folks may only own a few animals, they most likely get milk from them and they represent their only asset. They have my sympathy.
 

1dirthawker

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Last comment. I note that the giraffe is said to be endangered. The IUCN states that the species is vulnerable, not endangered. And that is essentially a function of location and sub-species. Giraffe are not endangered nor vulnerable in Southern Africa where they have value. These are the threats listed to giraffe:

yeah, i didn't think (know) that giraffes were endangered, hmmm, more fake news.
 

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yeah, i didn't think (know) that giraffes were endangered, hmmm, more fake news.

Listed as vulnerable. Not quite endangered but one step from it. So yep, like the rest of the article a bit over sensationalised.
 

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Sustenance hunters don't strip the carcass?

A lot of meat....if it's someone feeding his family or even extended family they not going to be wanting to risk hanging around getting caught....what 2 or 3 could carry would feed their families for a while....its not like you lot sitting down to a roast and some trimmings....its about a bit of relish to go with the nshima..sadza...pap...depending on which country you in...relish is anything from tomatoes..vegetables..meat...anything that makes a gravy or something to go with your cooked maize....and its quite interesting to see how people in first world countries dont have a problem with poaching in this situation.....my opinion and I am sure most others over here wouldn't be the same....
 
 

 

 

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