The Kenyan parliament has recently passed a new bill that states that anyone found killing or facilitating the killing of any one of the big five will be convicted of a capital offence. Essentially, this Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill calls for a life sentence as punishment for poachers.
The bill, which has been passed by parliament, is now awaiting confirmation from the president so that it can be put into law. The Kenyan authorities hope that the implementation of stiffer penalties for poachers will help put an end to the practice.
Judy Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources said that the government is committed to wildlife conservation. Wildlife serves as an iconic face for Kenya. It is a sector that provides employment, and that brings in major foreign currency for the country.
The number of elephants killed daily in Kenya has been increasing at an alarming rate and this bill will be put in place in an effort to curb this illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn.
Paul Mbugua, Kenya Wildlife Service Spokesman, said that the port of Mombasa has become a transit hub for the trade and these stiff punishments have been put in place as a measure to stop this trend. They have also stepped up the surveillance at the ports in an effort to intercept any contraband, and plan to use DNA technology to establish where any ivory passing through the port originated.
Tourism is a leading earner in Kenya, 80% of whose revenue comes from wildlife based holidays, so the country is fighting hard to protect this natural resource. The government also has plans to recruit more rangers, as well as to run awareness programmes in conjunction with neighbouring countries to help curb poaching and trafficking of ivory and horn.