As we end 2013, an important meeting has concluded among Kenya’s leaders committed to curbing wildlife crime, especially poaching. The meeting took place at Amboseli National Park on December 20. John Mbaria, communications expert for the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) reports 76 participants attended.
They represented the Judiciary, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Police, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Ministry of Environment, Water & Natural Resources, Ford Foundation, Kenya Tourist Board, Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association, Lusaka Task Force, Interpol, Office of Director of Public Prosecution, South African Embassy, U.S. Embassy, Kenyans United Against Poaching and several local and international conservation non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) including Lewis & Clark’s College of Law of the U.S.A.
The meeting was remarkable in that for the second time this year–the first was with Wildlife Direct and KWS officials–Kenya’s leadership is demonstrating a way forward to stop elephant and rhino poaching. The meeting brought renewed focus to the mutual priorities between government, the judiciary and economic interests to respond to well-planned criminal activities that go beyond the national borders of Kenya.
Poaching finances terrorism. Big rewards are paid to the end producers, the crooks selling illicit ivory and rhino horn. It was reported at this meeting that the street price for rhino horn per kilo has reached $65,000 U.S. about 5.5 million Kenya Shillings, A full grown rhino horn can weigh as much as seven kilos. Yet, the conviction and fines imposed on poachers did not exceed 40,000 Kenya Shillings, about $500 U.S.
The meeting concluded with several pages of agreed upon action steps that will be pursued by the various governmental agencies and conservation groups immediately. It is too early to boast of success but the meeting was a powerful show of the countries’ resolve to do something to effectively address wildlife crime.