, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 13 – The Cabinet has adopted tough measures aimed at protecting the country’s wildlife including fines of up to Sh1 million for those found guilty of poaching.
The Cabinet that met on Thursday under the chairmanship of President Uhuru Kenyatta also ordered a crash programme to increase Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers by 1,000 in addition to the establishment of an interagency security team to intensify surveillance in wildlife zones.
A brief statement from State House in Nairobi indicated that the Cabinet had also called for the sacking of any KWS officers found to be conniving with poachers.
“Establishment of an inter-agency security team composed of personnel from KWS and the Police Service to continuously track down and apprehend bandits in the wildlife sanctuaries including private conservancy areas,” read the statement.
The statement added that those behind poaching would not only be arrested but marked, named and shamed in addition to confiscating property acquired through poaching.
“Search any vehicle or vessel and seize and detain any wildlife where there is reason to believe that an offence has been committed, together with any tools, equipment, vessels or vehicles used in the commission of the offence,” directed the Cabinet.
Kenya has been hit by a wave of poaching incidents with statistics from the KWS indicating that more 50 elephants have been lost so far.
Arrests have also been made including that of 32 senior KWS officials for suspicion of abetting poaching. Several foreigners have also been arrested attempting to smuggle rhino horns and elephant tusks through the airport.
Police officers are also said to be in on the trade and on Tuesday three people including an Administration Police officer were found transporting elephant tusks.
Efforts by the KWS to fence some of the animal zones are underway but more needs to be done.
The Service has also been expressing concern that some of the private ranchers in the country have been colluding with poachers.