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US interior secretary to visit Kenya over poaching

ENVIRONMENT
By Alphonce Shiundu | January 21st 2016
Kenya Wildlife Service Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto (left) and USAID Senior Communications Advisor Philip Micheal Clark at the United States Embassy on Tuesday, 19th January, 2015. PHOTO: ANGELA MAINA/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: The US Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell will visit Kenya as part of her three-nation tour of Africa to address wildlife trafficking and assess the conservation efforts in the country.

She left Washington for Gabon Wednesday. She will also visit South Africa in what she said was America's way of showing commitment to deal with the transnational crime that has hugely affected African countries.

Addressing journalists in a teleconference from the Foreign Press Centre in Washington DC, Ms Jewell said she will visit the Port of Mombasa to assess the anti-trafficking measures at the port.

"Mombasa is one of the most critical locations where wildlife products are transited. So we'll be looking at demonstrations of anti-trafficking measures. The United States has two attachees from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and law enforcement. One is in Tanzania; the other is in Botswana. But they cover the landscape, and I will be there with them in addition to – with local law enforcement to see what is happening around Africa on the enforcement side," Jewell said in a teleconference.

BRING VISIBILITY

The trip comes six months after US President Barack Obama visited Nairobi and promised measures in the US to ban the sale of ivory across the States. For the Interior Secretary, the trip is an opportunity to buttress that commitment and "bring visibility" to the conservation and anti-poaching initiatives in Kenya. Kenya depends on its wildlife parks for the bulk of its tourism proceeds.

The good news that will follow the trip is a vow that if traffickers beat the Kenyan shipping system and get their cargo in the US, they will be nabbed and prosecuted for breaking Kenya's wildlife protection laws.

"... if there was an illegal shipment of logs or a shipment of wildlife products coming into the United States that violated the law of that country that was shipping them, we could seize that product and work with law enforcers in that country to bring those people to justice," she said.

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