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Government should put more effort to defeat poachers

By The Standard | Jan 30th 2015 | 3 min read

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu says there is increase in poaching activities and illegal trade in ivory that is putting elephant and rhino populations at risk.

The CS made that observation while addressing a workshop on Scene of Crime Trainers at the Kenya Wildlife Service training school last Wednesday. The forum has drawn participants from across the continent.

It aims at imparting knowledge and skills to assist participants in  dealing with the poaching menace.

The Government has in the past outlined measures to contain poaching, but the vice has continued to thrive as game population of the endangered species continues to grow thinner.

Past efforts to defeat poachers are yet to yield results. This has brought into question the Government’s commitment to fighting the menace.

There are indications that the Government is overwhelmed, but we hope the lacklustre methods employed by the State in the fight is not admission of defeat.

The most pertinent question is who these faceless poachers are?

It is not lost on everyone that the problem has persisted longer than it should. We are also aware that ordinary citizens do not have the wherewithal and requisite expertise to hunt in national parks across and smuggle the tusks without being noticed.

There is possibility there are syndicates involved in the menace. For them to be this successful, they have to be entrenched and wired within the system charged with the duty of protecting our wildlife.

To save these endangered species, the Government could start by declaring poaching a national disaster.

A report released by the International Police (Interpol) last year revealed that more than 13 tonnes of ivory were impounded, but this does not represent the actual number accounted for so far because some of it found its way into the market.

It does not bear thinking how many animals had to be killed to raise 13 tonnes of ivory. Other than that, Kenya has become a conduit for international cartels that deal in illegal ivory.

Stringent controls and examination of containers at the Port of Mombasa should be stepped up. This is because that particular port and Dar-es-Salaam, have been proved to be the favourites used by ivory traders.

Towards the end of last year, a consignment of ivory destined for China was detained and a few weeks later, three tonnes of what was believed to be the same consignment was found in a warehouse in Mombasa.


This is self-defeating. China has featured regularly as the favourite destination for the ivory. It is time for both governments to put in place measures to stop the trade. China should be prevailed upon to enforce the ban on ivory trading.

Further, the Government needs to tighten law enforcement and impose harsh sentences on perpetrators. This is the only way to discourage poachers.

Currently, poachers face a maximum of Sh20 million fine or 10 years imprisonment, which is too lenient given the gravity of the menace.

Regional wildlife law enforcement strategies should be standardised and respective governments prevailed upon to implement.

Better policing of the parks cannot be overemphasised. The Kenya Wildlife Service, which is in charge of the onerous task of protecting our wildlife has indicated it requires an additional 1,500 game rangers to effectively guard the game parks.

It would also be prudent to increase the number of rangers and deploy them well.


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