NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) on Monday called on Kenyan authorities to use the newly enacted wildlife law to impose stiffer penalties on wildlife poachers.
Head of Programs IFAW East Africa Steve Njumbi said the enactment of Kenya’s Wildlife Conservation and Management bill 2013 will act as a deterrent measure for poachers.
“The previous penalty for possession of ivory, a maximum of 350 U.S. dollars was not a deterrent at all vis-à-vis the prize of ivory. The new act has raised the penalty for offenses relating to endangered species,” Njumbi said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Under the new law, poachers who are found guilty will face massive fines and stiff jail.
In the new bill, those convicted of offenses relating to endangered and threatened species are liable to fines of not less than 118,000 dollars or to imprisonment of not less than 15 years or both.
“The impressive stiffer penalties will surely be a deterrent to the lower-end poachers which is an effective way of disrupting the wildlife crime chain,” Njumbi noted.
“However there will still be a need to enhance intelligence gathering and investigations to cut the other links of wildlife trafficking.”
According to IFAW’s recent report, ivory smuggling and the wildlife trade have been linked to other forms of organized crime including terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking.
The statement comes after the east African nation has made numerous arrests of ivory smugglers in Nairobi and across various parts of the country in a bid to stem the vice.
The conservation organization also lauded China for crushing six tones of ivory to demonstrate commitment to end ivory trade.
“IFAW strongly supports governments that destroy ivory stockpiles. It is a symbolic gesture that highlights the plight of tens of thousands of elephants and takes ivory out of circulation and renders it worthless,” Njumbi said.
He said most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold.”
As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative, IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean.
The organization has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Interpol, the first ever signed by Interpol’s Environmental Crime Program with an NGO.
IFAW and Interpol have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.