By K. Peppeh
Githu Muigai, Kenya’s attorney general is urging the nation’s parliament to enact a new wildlife bill in an attempt to put the disturbing rise of poaching under control.
Speaking in a forum at the International Environmental Compliance and Enforcement meeting organized by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Prof Muigai called on lawmakers to pass the Wildlife Management and Conservation Bill before their Christmas break is due—“which is sometime by mid next month.”
Under the new law, poachers are expected to be meted stiffer punishments when caught. For many years environmental protection groups have criticized Kenya’s anti-poaching laws for not punishing poachers enough to deter them from killing hundreds of elephants and rhinos yearly.
According to Prof Muigai, the new law “is a great step forward in tightening the regulatory framework and in empowering the courts to give stiffer sentences than before. It represents to a greater extent a policy shift, a recognition that this problem does require a more serious approach from the criminal justice system.”
He also relayed the government’s plans to recruit about one thousand rangers to the Kenyan Wildlife Society (KWS) to join a newly formed elite anti-poaching unit.
Poaching has drastically increased in Kenya and other African countries in the past few years as the growing Asian middle class’ demand for ivory and rhino products continues to rise. The Kenyan government has responded by implementing various measures including increasing the number of rangers in the Kenyan Wildlife Service, creating an elite inter-agency poaching unit and partnering with regional and international groups to put up a concerted fight against poaching. More....