Tighten laws to save elephants from poachers

NAIROBI: A report released by the Save the Elephant Foundation, a lobby group that fights international trade in illegal ivory, says ivory prices have trebled and there has been increased trade over the last four years.

This period coincides with the entry of China into Africa, ostensibly for trade and development partnerships.

Chinese history shows a pre-occupation with ivory over the centuries, leading to the decimation of elephant and rhino populations in Asia.

The Afro-Chinese association, however, appears to have come with a price; the decimation of rhino and elephant populations in Africa.

In November 2013, China's presidential jet was used to transport a huge consignment of ivory from Tanzania.

The fact that a presidential jet was used shows the extent to which the Chinese are willing to go to get as much ivory out of Africa as they could while circumstances favour them.

Another report released by the international police (Interpol) in September, revealed that last year alone (2013), over 13 tonnes of ivory were impounded.

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Mid this year, three tonnes of ivory were discovered in a warehouse in Mombasa, just a few weeks after another consignment destined for China through the Mombasa port was detained.

In September, another haul involving 219 elephant tusks was impounded while in transit.

In Narok in the same month, scientists carrying out wildlife census found the carcasses of 117 elephants.

At this rate, the elephant will be extinct in Africa in a few years unless serious measures are put in place to check the wanton poaching.

According to the latest report, governments need to tighten law enforcement, improve on prosecutions and impose harsh sentences to discourage poachers.

In Kenya, for instance, poachers face a maximum of 10 years in jail with the possibility of parole.

This is too lenient.

The penalty needs to reflect the severity of killing what millions pay each year to come and watch in our game parks.

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Elephant Foundation poachers Tusks