By Victor Raballa
The government plans to recruit more than 1,000 security officers to be deployed to poaching hotspots across the country. Attorney General Githu Muigai said the move will boost the fight against poaching which threatens the country’s security and development. He said the government is committed to fast-tracking the enactment of Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill, 2013 which spells stiffer penalties on offenders.
“The trade in wildlife and its products poses a major challenge to wildlife conservation. The Bill however, envisages to support initiatives that conserve and protect our national heritage for posterity,” said Githu. Speaking during the First High Level Compliance and Enforcement Meeting at UN headquarters in Nairobi yesterday, Interpol Wildlife Crime Working Group chairman Sheldon Jordan said illicit trade in wildlife and illegal fishing were a serious and growing international problem, whose impact transcends national borders.
He said wildlife crime is recognised as the fourth largest global illegal trade with an annual estimate of over Sh1.3 trillion, behind illegal drugs, human trafficking and trade in armaments. “Studies indicate that the illegal trade in wildlife and timber may help finance terrorism and organised crime across the world. The same routes used to smuggle wildlife across countries and continents are often used to smuggle weapons, drugs and people,” said Jordan.
The study also states that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing accounts for 11 – 26 million tonnes a year, equivalent to 15 percent of world catches. According to a recent report by UNEP and partners, the prevalence of unregulated domestic ivory markets in many African cities is coupled with the growing number of Asian nationals residing in Africa who facilitate the illegal trade in ivory out of Africa. In 2011, an estimated 40 percent of the total elephant population in Africa (17,000) were illegally killed.