, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – The United Kingdom has announced that plans are underway for the British Army to join forces with Kenyan anti-poaching groups late this month in an effort to crack down on wildlife crime.
The visiting British Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson says British Army Paratroopers will provide patrolling and field training to members of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, Kenyan Forestry Service and Mount Kenya Trust.
“Illegal poaching is having a devastating effect on some of the world’s most iconic species and we must work together to tackle it,” he said.
He said he intends to hold discussion with the government on the importance of a strong legal framework to punish and deter the perpetrators of poaching.
The government has lately intensified its fight against illegal trade of ivory by deploying at least 1,000 new rangers to boost capacity by KWS to execute their mandate effectively.
“By joining forces with those on the front line in Kenya, our armed services will be able to provide training and support to the courageous people who put their lives on the line every day to protect these animals,” he pointed out.
During his visit, Paterson will also discuss the importance of a strong legal framework to punish and deter the perpetrators of poaching and will highlight the work that the British High Commission, through its Criminal Justice Advisor, has been doing with the Office of Director of Prosecutions.
“It will be an honour to meet so many people who work so hard to conserve some of the world’s most iconic species for ourselves and our children,” he added.
The environmental Secretary will also use the visit to extend an invitation to the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed, to attend the London conference on illegal wildlife trade in February next year.
The conference will focus on illegal wildlife crime and aims to tackle three inter-related aspects of illegal wildlife trade; improving law enforcement and the role of the criminal justice system, reducing demand for wildlife products and supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods.
The government has also formed an inter-agency anti-poaching unit comprising officers from specialised elements of the KWS, Administration Police and the General Service Unit to strengthen the fight against poaching.
The elite rapid response units provide support to KWS officers, already deployed in various areas across the country.