Kenya toughens stance against wildlife crime

Kenya has a policy of burning piles of seized ivory in public to discourage poaching.

Kenya has a policy of burning piles of seized ivory in public to discourage poaching.

Kenya is taking a bold stand against wildlife crime through higher penalties for wildlife criminals
According to the USAID sponsored report by TRAFFIC, the leading global NGO on trade in wild animals, the East African nation has been highlighted as a key source and transit point for wildlife commodities exiting Africa.

Kenya Wildlife Service Chairman Dr Richard Leakey says the report is a blueprint for taking action against the organized crime syndicates which undermine Kenyan society and rob it of its wildlife.

“TRAFFIC’s report highlights the considerable progress made by the authorities in addressing wildlife poaching and trafficking in Kenya but does not shy away from acknowledging the considerable challenges that lie ahead,” Leakey said.

Among other findings, the report singles out Kilindini Port in Mombasa and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi as key exit points from Africa for illegally traded wildlife products.

Since 2009, more ivory has been shipped through Mombasa than any other trade route out of Africa.

The lack of regional and international co-operation in East Africa to address wildlife crime is also identified as a critical weakness, hindering efforts that would enable more emphasis to be placed on intelligence-based operations, making them more effective in targeting criminals higher up the trade chain.

“Future enforcement interventions in Kenya and elsewhere in the region need to be internationally co-ordinated and focus on targeting the middlemen and kingpins of large-scale trafficking, rather than easily replaceable low-level poachers and transport mules,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.

“The US is firmly behind the international drive to curtail the poaching crisis that is decimating elephants, rhinos and other wildlife in Africa and its associated criminal activities that impact on broader issues, including rule of law, national security, rural livelihoods and economic development,” said USAID/Kenya and East Africa Mission Director, Karen Freeman.

The report concludes that Kenya needs to mobilize human and financial resources to prevent the illegal killing of wildlife in addition to partnering with conservation NGOs, relevant international bodies and diplomatic missions in a targeted and continuous dialogue, aiming to reduce the appetites of wildlife consumers, particularly in Asia.