Kenya will fast-track laws to make wildlife poaching a capital offence as part of the country’s bid to conserve flora and fauna, a senior government official said last week.
Najib Balala, the Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, said that once the laws are enacted, the offenders of the wildlife crimes will face the death penalty in accordance with the laws of the land.
“We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of 200,000 U.S. dollars. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence,” Balala remarked during the official launch of the northern white rhino commemorative stamps at Ol Pejeta Conservancy located in Laikipia County on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
The initiative to issue a set of stamps to celebrate the northern white rhino was instigated by the Postal Corporation of Kenya in honour of ‘Sudan’, the remaining male northern white rhino that died on March 19 after suffering from age-related health issues and from a series of infections.
Last year Kenya saw a decline in the number of rhino and elephant poached, largely thanks to enhanced wildlife law-enforcement efforts and investment in conservation. “Kenya lost nine rhinos and 60 elephants to poachers in 2017, compared to 14 rhinos and 96 elephants lost in the previous year” said Balala.
However, just earlier this month poachers shot dead three black rhinos inside a rhino sanctuary in Meru National Park and had their horns removed.
Richard Vigne, the CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy that was home to Sudan the rhino, said the tragic story of the northern rhino will be captured forever as a signal to the world. He added that whilst Kenya remains a global leader in conservation, there are nonetheless many species across the planet that face a similar plight.