Harsh penalties for wildlife poaching coming – Ruto

Ruto said this strategy will develop the country's tourism industry to make it more competitive and help create more job opportunities for the youth/DPPS

Ruto said this strategy will develop the country’s tourism industry to make it more competitive and help create more job opportunities for the youth/DPPS

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – Deputy President William Ruto has said that the government will fast-track the Wildlife Bill to make the killing of the Big Five to a capital offence.

Speaking at a meeting of stakeholders in the tourism industry in his office on Thursday, Ruto said he was concerned that wanton poaching in the country was decimating elephants, lions, buffalos, rhinos and leopards at an alarming rate.

“Operationalisation of the Wildlife Act to make killing of the Big Five a capital offence will be a deterrent as it will attract more severe penalties to the poachers. Once operational, the Act will attract life sentences for killing wildlife,” he said.

He said the government was committed to turning around the tourism industry adding it will increase the budget for marketing Kenya as a tourist destination to three times its present allocation.

“We need to increase the marketing budget to the Kenya Tourism Board from Sh740 million to about Sh3 billion so as to increase tourist arrivals from the current 1.6 million to three million tourists per year in the short term,” he added.

Ruto said this strategy will develop the country’s tourism industry to make it more competitive and help create more job opportunities for the youth.

This comes as Kenya was ranked second after South Africa in the Conference Tourism in Africa and 58th globally in the Country City rankings 2012 report by the International Congress and Convention Association.

Nairobi was ranked 2nd best after Cape Town and scored position 100 best city destination for international conferences up from 104th position it held in 2011.

The Permanent Secretary for Tourism Ruth Solitei said that the performance is a key indicator that conference tourism is on the rise and there is need for more conference facilities that promote the sector.

“This performance justifies the need for more conferences facilities of international standards in every county, more accommodation and bed capacity, ideal transport and communication infrastructure to raise attractiveness and capacity of the destination,” Solitei added.

She also revealed that they are already increasing international conferences and the government has set aside land in Bamburi, Mombasa to construct a state of the art Green Convention Centre and is now sourcing for investors to form partnerships for the project.

Solitei said that the ministry is already engaging with county governors to establish conference tourism secretaries in each of the counties.

The country hosted 29 International Association Conferences in 2012 up from 20 held in 2011.

  • Gabby

    No just killing BUT ‘dealing in, abetting, serving as conduit and in any way drawing utility that leads to maiming, death or mere distress to the animals in their natural habitat’….. should attract the death penalty…….. That would seal these poachers’ knee-jerk attraction to getting rich quick and stamp out their impunity in this sick trade.

  • Dawn

    If they can do this and put it into action it will be an example for other country’s to follow. Then maybe just maybe there will be a light at the end of the tunnel

    • BeautifulBC

      I 100% agree, in British Columbia a developed economy with access to all the current research indicating sports hunting depletes the gene pool via selecting for the healthiest/largest species, is obviously cruel ect.. it is still legal. I have great respect for Kenyan wildlife stewardship programs some of the best in the world, happy to spend my money there, as a first choice wildlife viewing destination, I won’t go to South Africa as they have a large canned lion hunt industry. Kenyan people are also lovely and gracious, met many when I first went to Kenya.

  • BeautifulBC

    Excellent Kenya enough said. In key parks in India now, poachers can be shot if they do not desist, ie. stop killing a rhino/tiger when caught, several have been, this is what has had to be done, as even jail sentences were not working, as the poachers once released would go back to poaching. But a life sentence in Kenya should act as a deterent.

  • Justice

    Great news Mr Ruto. We need to keep all hunters away from the animals – especially those Americans. Just because they pay, it is NOT ok to kill this wildlife!!

  • Gail

    Wonderful news – by “capital” do you mean sentenced to death? I sincerely hope so as has been proved in my country (South Africa) that poachers return to poaching. We have lost 13 rhino to poaching in the last week alone.I say hang ‘em high.

  • Henriette Schalekamp-Roux

    WAY to go Kenya ! Bravo ! ZERO tolerance needed here in Africa !

  • Nigel52

    Will the tourists be coming to see the thousands of cattle that graze in the Parks with impunity? Talk of toughening penalties is cheap – how many YEARS has the Act been debated ? How many dead elephants and rhino in that time? When will the talk stop and the action begin ?