WWF Applauds Kenyan Parliament for Passing Motion to Increase Penalties on Wildlife Crimes
The emergency amendment to the act will see penalties for wildlife crime, especially in relation to Elephants and Rhinos, rise significantly to a 15-year prison term and or a fine of up to USD120,000. Previous penalties for wildlife crime stood at an appalling USD 480 on average for fines or a 2-year-jail term, often not applied.
The emergency amendment of this act will also see the number of game rangers increased in order to protect Kenya’s wildlife, which is currently under serious threat from poachers. In addition, the Government of Kenya, through the Director of Public Prosecutions, has also set up a special division to specifically address wildlife related crimes following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent commitment to put an end to the poaching crisis in the country.
This event in Kenya is particularly significant to WWF, which is currently running a global campaign to bring to an end Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT). The IWT campaign has significantly contributed to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s pledge to end ivory trade in Thailand through amending national legislation.
“As a next step we will forward amending the national legislation with the goal of putting an end to ivory trade and to be in line with international norms,” Prime Minster Shinawatra said during the CITES meeting held in March. “This will help protect all forms of elephants including Thailand’s wild and domestic elephants and those from Africa.”
Ending ivory trade in Thailand, currently the world’s largest unregulated ivory market together with cutting the supply to these markets from developing countries, such as Kenya, will go a long way in tackling the demand and supply elements of this intricate yet illicit trade.
Kenya’s elephants declined from 160,000 in 1960s to the current 38,500 elephants while Kenya has only 1,025 rhinos. Therefore, ending illegal wildlife trade will bring an almost definite end to a global poaching crisis that is leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants and rhinos each year and fuelling a lucrative global criminal trade in animal parts.
The WWF ESARPO Regional Representative, Niall O’Connor during a walk to advocate for an end to poaching, noted that WWF is willing to work with the Government of Kenya to put an end to illegal wildlife trade which is a big threat to its growing economy.
“We recognize illegal wildlife trade as a serious crime which threatens both the economic capability, and the security of Kenya. We will continue to work with the government to support measures aimed at ending this crime,” said Mr. O’Connor
WWF is on the frontline in supporting calls for enactment of the proposed Wildlife Bill that will enhance the protection and management of Wildlife in Kenya. This bill is currently pending, awaiting deliberation in the Kenyan parliament.