Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

KENYA and South Africa have agreed to vote as a bloc during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) conference in Bangkok next month.

The two countries are fast-tracking their co-operation in wildlife management matters as poachers expand the killing of elephants and rhinos to supply markets in Asia.

Kenya has been able to grow its rhino herd from 300 in the early 1990s to the estimated 700 rhinos now. Last year, South Africa lost 668 rhinos to poachers, about the entire population of rhinos in Kenya, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

A delegation from South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has been in Kenya since late last week on an official working visit for final discussions on the proposed areas of co-operation, said the director of Kenya Wildlife Service, William Kiprono.

The head of the South African delegation, Moscow Marumo, said a lot of ground had been covered. "We are confident that South Africa and Kenya will speak with one voice during the upcoming Cites conference in Bangkok."

Kenya has proposed five amendments to international wildlife conservation treaties in the wake of increased poaching of elephants, rhinos and cheetahs.

Kenya proposes that only white rhinoceros from Swaziland and South Africa should be allowed to participate in international trade in live animals. All other species of rhinoceros should be included in Appendix I, which lists species of animals and plants that are threatened with extinction.

Kenya has proposed that no application for ivory trade will be submitted during the life of the existing moratorium, which ends in 2017. The proposal is jointly submitted with Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Togo and Mali.

The European Union supports the proposal on ivory trade.

Kenya and Tanzania further propose that a plant known as East African Sandlewood be included in Appendix II, which lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.

East African Sandlewood has recently entered the international market as a substitute for the traditional sandalwood oil sourced from Asia and Australia.