KENYA NABBS MORE BLOOD IVORY SMUGGLERS AS 1.000 MORE RANGERS JOIN KWS
A Vietnamese national was arrested earlier in the week at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, when he was found with nearly 34 kilogrammes of carved and cut up ivory. Reports from Nairobi speak of almost 500 pieces of ivory, painted brown to look like soap stone, detected by security officials as the culprit tried to board a plane to fly to Bangkok and on to Vietnam.
While the latest CITES meeting has largely failed to devise measures to curb poaching for ivory and rhino horn on a global scale, Kenya’s own efforts continue to be undermined by weak legislation which, as it presently stands, leaves magistrates with little choice but to hand down a small financial fine and at most a few weeks in prison. The new Kenyan government is expected to bring an amendment of the current wildlife bill before the new parliament, which is due to be opened officially by President Kenyatta on Tuesday next week, introducing wide ranging changes such as very heavy financial penalties, forfeiture of among other items vehicles used while poaching or transporting contraband and long prison terms, after the newly sworn in president has named poaching as one of the criminal menaces his government will target.
At the same time information became available that up to 1.000 new rangers will join the Kenya Wildlife Service, boosting monitoring, enforcement and anti poaching operations in the field.
It is expected that under the new government UAV’s will be deployed to allow for 24 / 7 aerial monitoring of poaching hotspots, which would allow for swift and targeted deployment of ground forces.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia was the first to announce the purchase of such airborne monitoring systems, to stem the rising tide of rhino poaching which has in recent months hit them alongside other key conservancies like Solio and Lewa Downs.
The announcement of the new Cabinet Secretary (Designate) for Tourism and Wildlife – the nominee will have to undergo vetting by parliament before being confirmed in his or her position – is expected to take place later today and will give a clear indication how serious the new government is to turn words and campaign promises into concret action. Watch this space for updates as and when available.