Kenya is home to a wide variety of treasured species in national parks and reserves, including lions, black rhinos, ostriches, hippos, buffalos, giraffe and zebra.
Last year in the country 69 elephants – out of a population of 34,000 - and nine rhinos – from a population of under 1,000 - were killed.
Gangs sell elephant tusks for ivory in the far East, where it is turned into trinkets; rhino horn is believed by some wealthy buyers there to serve as a medicine – even though it is made of keratin, the same substance as human fingernails, so has no health-giving properties.
Wildlife poachers in Kenya will face the death penalty, the country’s tourism and wildlife minister has reportedly announced. Najib Balala warned the tough new measure would be fast-tracked into law.
“We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of US$200,000,” Mr Balala reportedly said. “However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.“
Kenya’s tourism chiefs say poaching has been on a downward trend largely thanks to enhanced wildlife law-enforcement efforts and investment in conservation.
“These efforts led to an 85 per cent reduction in rhino poaching and a 78 per cent reduction in elephant poaching, respectively, in 2017 compared to when poaching was at its peak in 2013 and 2012 respectively,” the ministry said.