By Ngari Gichuki
Nairobi, Kenya: Anyone convicted of poaching or facilitating the poaching of rhinos and elephants will be jailed for life.
This is according to the Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill 2013, recently passed by Parliament awaiting the President to assent it into law.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources Judy Wakhungu said when the Bill becomes law, the Government will inch closer to winning the fight against poaching and conserving wildlife species for future generations.
She added that the stiffer penalties would discourage poaching and game hunting, which for long have been the major contributors to declining wildlife numbers.
Prof Wakhungu was speaking during Conservation Heroes Day ceremony at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters in Nairobi yesterday, where she led KWS officers in honouring their colleagues who lost their lives in the fight against poaching.
Wakhungu said the Government, through strict directives from the President, was committed to wildlife conservation as one of Vision 2030 projects.
Her ministry, she added, was also committed to preserving wildlife, as it is the iconic face of the country and a major foreign currency earner, which employs thousands of Kenyans.
“I know our President and previous governments have consistently supported wildlife conservation. Uhuru Kenyatta has made it a commitment to help stem poaching and secure wildlife species and spaces for prosperity.
“For this reason, Kenya’s transformation blue-print, Vision 2030, has identified tourism as one of the six key sectors to deliver the ten per cent economic growth rate per annum envisaged under the economic pillar,” said Wakhungu.
She termed wildlife rangers who lost their lives in a bid to eradicate poaching as heroes and said they would never be forgotten.
“The monument erected in honour of the departed officers is a constant reminder of the sacrifice our rangers make every day in securing our national heritage. And it is on the shoulders of the departed colleagues and many others who have laid the firm foundation on whose fruits we are now celebrating,” she said.