BY ELIJAH CHEMOBO, The Star
January 31, 2014
The Judiciary has thrown its weight behind the punitive Wildlife and Conservation Act, which sets a maximum life imprisonment or a fine of Sh20 million for poachers.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said the Kenya Wildlife Service, Judiciary and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will now collaborate to end poaching.
“With new laws and effective inter-agency cooperation, we will nab and jail the ivory dealers. This will stem the flow of ivory and quickly secure our elephants and rhinos,” said Dr Mutunga as he officially opened the dialogue meeting on wildlife crimes in Nairobi on Wednesday. Mutunga said his office is committed to ensure the reforms succeed. He said there is no doubt the new law and reforms court reforms will transform the wildlife crime situation in Kenya.
Environment Secretary Judy Wakhungu said the penalties will make poaching non-profitable.She said the wildlife sector is a key pillar of Kenya’s economy as it is the backbone of the tourism industry. “We have now classified wildlife crimes as economic crimes so that they attract stiff punishments for those involved,” Wakhungu said.
She said they will also work closely with the Judiciary in understanding the gravity of wildlife related crimes. “The custodial sentences and fines will now reflect the damage that the illicit trade brings to the wellbeing of Kenya,” Wakhungu said.
The first casualty of the new law is a Chinese Tang Jian, who was fined Sh20 million after he was caught with ivory weighing 3.4kg at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. If he is unable to pay the fine, he will be jailed for seven years.
Wakhungu said Kenya is a source and a transit destination for ivory and other illicit wildlife products. She said her Ministry, the Judiciary and related stakeholders will work with the international community to ensure that demand for wildlife products is eliminated.
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Plea: William feeds a black rhino at Port Lympne animal park in Kent (Picture: Getty)
Published: 28 January 2014
Updated: 12:39, 28 January 2014
JOSEPH WATTS, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
In a victory for Prince William the Chinese government will send a minister to London next month to discuss the illegal trade in ivory and rhaino horn.
The Duke of Cambridge has been urging China to do more to help the international battle against poaching.
It has seen a sustained behind-the-scenes effort, led by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, aimed at persuading the Chinese to come to a conference on the illegal wildlife trade at the start of February. Governments from across Asia and Africa are expected to attend.
China is a huge market for ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts and ministers believe it has a key role in tackling poaching and trafficking.
A government source said: “There has been two trips to China to get them on board and we have been assiduously trying to persuade them to come.”
William is expected to make a speech at the event, which will be attended by David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and US secretary of state John Kerry.
In a video message released in Shanghai last year, the Prince said: “We must stop the demand for illegally traded wildlife products within our lifetimes or these amazing animals will be for ever wiped from the planet. As a father, I want our children to know that rhinos are not just a picture in a book.”
At the end of last year, ministers announced a £10 million package to support efforts to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife products, including rhino horn and elephant ivory.
The multi-billion-pound industry, which is linked to international crime gangs, promotes corruption, damages tourism opportunities and undermines economic growth in the world’s poorest countries.
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