Government to set up wildlife forensic lab

Environment Cabinet secretary Judy Wakhungu says this will greatly enhance the war against poaching/FILE

Environment Cabinet secretary Judy Wakhungu says this will greatly enhance the war against poaching/FILE

NAIROBI Kenya, Aug 15 – The Government has announced plans to construct a wildlife forensic laboratory to aid in the provision of accurate identification of wildlife and wildlife products in order to strengthen prosecution of wildlife crimes.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu says this will greatly enhance the war against poaching.

While noting that poachers are now using sophisticated weapons in their trade at the detriment of the country’s wildlife, she said there was need to start employing modern and appropriate technology.

In a speech read by Kenya Wildlife Service Director William Kiprono, Wakhungu said that hundreds of rangers will join the service to enhance security of the country’s wildlife even more.

“The government recruited 566 new rangers in April and another 800 rangers will be recruited by end of October, 2014,” he said.

“Poaching and illegal trade in wildlife species are criminal enterprises of the same magnitude as drug trafficking.”

He pointed out that, “Kenya has become a transit point for trafficking of contraband trophies due to its strategic geographical location coupled with an efficient transport system. Illicit trophies from the region have found their way into points of entry and exit.”

“Through our efforts and presence in these points, especially with the deployment of a canine unit, some 38,300 kg of ivory and 88.8kg of rhino horn have been seized within the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and the Port of Mombasa between the years 2010 to 2014.”

He was speaking when the service received anti-poaching equipment worth Sh900,000 from the Chinese Government.

He said that that the Government has also come up with a comprehensive National Ivory Action Plan, whose objective is to enhance co-operation among the State, law enforcement agencies and non-state agencies “to ensure elephant poaching and illegal trade in elephant ivory is reduced, if not eliminated.”

China Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa on his part called for international joint efforts where all stakeholders share the common responsibilities and objectives in the war against poaching.

“This humble donation will enhance the capacity of four wildlife conservancies to provide security cover through targeted patrols in the northern rangelands and the Coast,” he stated. “Wildlife crimes are a cross-border menace.”

He assured that: “A number of policies have been adopted to promote ecological progress, and incorporate it into all aspects and the whole process of advancing economic, political, cultural, and social progress.”

“A full range of rules and regulations were put in place with the Law on Protection of Wildlife being the centrepiece to enforce strict compliance.”

Liu said as a measure, “all Chinese nationals, upon their arrival in Kenya, will receive an automatic SMS message, alerting them of the importance of protecting wildlife.”

“Our robust controls have sent a powerful message to wildlife poachers, traffickers and illegal users of wildlife products that the Chinese government is totally against wildlife destruction.”