, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – The government is working on mechanisms to see communities living near wildlife benefit economically from the animals.
Water, Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu says this will improve the communities’ economic status and deter them from poaching wildlife.
“My ministry will fully support this initiative as it will raise their economic standards as well as deter them from being persuaded to poach wildlife,” she said.
Wakhungu revealed that the new Wildlife Bill is set to be tabled in Parliament for endorsement and will effectively deal with poachers.
“Under the new legislation, anyone found dealing in trophies of ivory or rhino horn will be liable to a fine of not less than Sh1 million or imprisonment for a term of not less than five years or to both, while poachers will be liable to a fine of not less than Sh3 million or imprisonment for not less than five years,” Wakhungu said.
She was speaking at the ‘Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign’ launch by key stakeholders in government and the private sector to mobilize the nation against poaching of elephants.
Led by Wildlife Direct, the campaign seeks to create awareness about the crisis and demand for a massive surge in anti-poaching and investigations at ports to crackdown on corruption and trafficking of ivory.
Wildlife Direct Chief Executive Officer Paula Kahumbu said: “The situation is getting out of hand, poaching is escalating out of control , the country lost 384 elephants to poachers in 2012 up from fewer than 50 just five years ago.”
Kahumbu said that the country is also witnessing a surge in poaching by local communities who are using traditional methods including poison arrows, spears and traps.
She said the demand for ivory in the Far East, particularly China, has attracted criminal cartels to Kenya who are feeding the insatiable demand for ivory in the Far East especially China and Thailand.
“We are asking the governments of Africa, Thailand, China and USA to ban the domestic markets of ivory as legal markets are a cover for laundering illegal ivory,” she said.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is the campaign patron.
Conservationists have warned that poaching will exterminate elephants in the next decade unless measures are undertaken to stem this crisis.