In Isiolo, on the edge of the game-rich Northern Frontier District, two poachers were arrested last fall with 23,000 dik-dik horns packed in salad-oil tins. The diminutive antelope's three-inch horns make attractive pendants, when chased in silver or gold.
In the Kina area to the north, 40 poachers were caught with 20 rhinoceros horns, three elephant tusks and eight guns.
At Kitui, east of Nairobi near the coastal plateau, game scouts apprehended a man carrying 84 pieces of illegal ivory.
Ellis T. Monks, honorary secretary of the World Wildlife Fund in Kenya, discovered three caracal skins for sale in a curio shop on Kimathi Street, Nairobi's main venue for the sale of animal trophies. The caracal, or African lynx, is protected by law under the nation's Conservation and Management Act. When Monks reported the violation, his only reward was the summary withdrawal of his honorary game-warden's license—perhaps a subtle hint that someone in the government had more interest in curio-shop profits than in the salvation of endangered species.
In Amboseli National Park on the Tanzanian border, a census showed that just 1� rhinos (a cow and a calf) remained in what was once Kenya's "rhino showplace." Since the census was taken, the rhino population has risen to about eight. The decimation was understandable, considering what rhino horn costs in Hong Kong—up to $300 an ounce—where it is believed to have a wide range of medicinal properties. In 1968 a census showed there were 11,000 rhinos in Kenya. In 1972, the peak year for rhino-horn sales to Hong Kong, 34 hunters bought rhino licenses but killed only 19 of the animals. In the same year, Hong Kong druggists imported about 1,000 horns from Kenya and Indonesia. During the past 10 years, some 9,000 rhinos have been killed in Kenya—very few by legally licensed hunters.
Despite the ban on hunting and a subsequent law prohibiting the sale of wildlife products, supermarkets in Nairobi and other towns still offer specials on fresh impala chops. Because of a lack of zebra and wildebeest, the lions living in Nairobi's 44-square-mile game park have left for meatier pastures: they are preying on dogs and livestock in the suburbs of the nation's capital.
In Meru National Park last fall, five poachers killed three of Kenya's six white rhinos. This species, larger but less aggressive than the more common black variety, is not native to Kenya. The Meru rhinos had been imported from Natal, in South Africa, and were so tame that children could pat their horns and scratch their ears. The largest of them, a bull named Sakila, was shot more than six times. His 24-pound frontal horn would bring more than $100,000 in Hong Kong.
Though the sale of "raw" elephant ivory has been banned since 1974, with only the government permitted to sell it abroad (the current price is more than $45 a pound) some 680 tons have been exported—yet Kenya's official records can account for only 296 tons. An estimated 10,000 elephants are killed annually in Kenya, most of them illegally, according to Harry Tennison, a Texan well known in Kenya hunting circles. "At the very height of hunting in Kenya, no more than 150 elephants were taken in one year on legal safaris by clients," says Tennison.
In the Galana region along the lower Tana River, a former professional hunter named Ken Clark spotted a wounded rhino on the ranch where he worked as game manager. Following it up, he jumped a band of poachers and killed one of them. A running gun battle followed, and Clark was killed by a bullet that ricocheted into his chest from his belt buckle as he stood in the roof hatch of his truck.
Finally, last December, on the 14th anniversary of Kenya's independence, President Kenyatta announced a move that many observers felt should have been implemented at the same time as the sport-hunting ban. He banned the sale of trophies and game products by curio shops, giving the owners (mainly Indians) three months to liquidate their stocks. (By contrast, the professional hunters had been granted no time at all to finish out safaris already contracted or in progress; many were informed of the ban by government game scouts in the field.)