News / Africa

Kenyan Anti-Poaching Laws May Get Overhaul

Kenya wildlife officials display firearms recovered from elephant poachers at their headquarters, Nairobi, June 22, 2012.
Kenya wildlife officials display firearms recovered from elephant poachers at their headquarters, Nairobi, June 22, 2012.
Jill Craig
As rhino and elephant poachings continue at alarming rates across the Africa continent, in some countries the penalties for illegally hunting endangered species remain unchanged.
 
Based on legislation enacted in 1976 and revised in 1989, Kenya's outdated wildlife laws haven't keep pace with unregulated-market values: in China, elephant tusks can bring an estimated at $900 per kilogram whereas the same amount of powdered rhino horn can fetch an astounding $65,000.
 
Ivory seized by year, worldwide, from 2008 to 2012.Ivory seized by year, worldwide, from 2008 to 2012.
x
Ivory seized by year, worldwide, from 2008 to 2012.
Ivory seized by year, worldwide, from 2008 to 2012.
Confronted by what has long been described as a new breed of poacher — highly sophisticated and well-resourced international crime syndicates that use paramilitary tactics and employ game ranchers, hunters and veterinarians to acquire tusks and horns — Kenya's fines are negligible when compared to the commercial stakes.

Offenders caught with illicit game meat, for example, face fines of no more than $235 or a prison sentence of no more than three years, while those caught with illegal game trophies faces fines of no more than $120 and prison sentences not exceeding one year.
 
In a world where the price of powdered horn competes with comparable amounts of heroin or cocaine, offenders have little to lose if caught.
 
“People just go into the court, they admit the offense, pay the penalties, give up what they were caught with and leave," says Helen Gichohi, president of the African Wildlife Foundation. "They know if they are caught, there is going to be a slap on the wrist and they will be let go, and they can go and try again.
 
"The risk is very low compared to the size of the reward," she says, describing it as part of a Kenyan culture of impunity, where even basic driving laws go unenforced. "What they are earning here is many, many times higher than they will ever be required to pay in a court of law.”
 
Harsher penalties, community engagement
 
While the Kenyan Cabinet recently prepared new wildlife legislation for parliamentary review — which, if passed, would apply stringent penalties — Didi Wamukoya, chief prosecutor of the Kenya Wildlife Service, says adequate investigatory tools are also critical.
 
Poachers, she says, often escape punishment due to poor forensic capabilities.
 
“Sometimes you have a carcass, then three months later ivory is recovered somewhere, but we do not have the capability of connecting that ivory with the elephant which died," she says. "You end up charging the person with the ivory possession only — you cannot connect him to the death of the elephant."
 
Kenya recently broke ground on a new forensics laboratory that offers DNA analysis that will enable investigators to match seized ivory with a given carcass. While securing evidence against poachers will undoubtedly provide prosecutors an edge in court, World Wildlife Fund attorney Gladys Warigia says application of harsher laws and grassroots education is still essential.
 
According to the newly prepared legislation, she says, fines for possessing trophies of endangered species could expand to as much as $58,000 and a minimum imprisonment of five years. Combined with efforts to raise public awareness about poaching in the local communities, she says, the new policies could combat the crisis.
 
“You put harsh penalties and maybe the strict enforcement of these laws, I am sure it will just go down," she says. "[But] you involve the communities and sensitize them on the importance of wildlife to their lives and all that, the economy, I think that holistic approach will improve things.”
 
According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, tens of thousands of African elephants are killed each year to supply the market with between 50 and 120 tons of ivory. An estimated 800 kilograms of illicit rhino horn reach Asian markets each year.

Listen to report on poaching by Jill Craig
Listen to report on poaching by Jill Craigi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

 

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid