By Kevin Wafula
The Canadian Government has committed $2 million (Ksh160 million) emergency funding to Kenya Wildlife Service to combat international wildlife trafficking.
The money will build the capacity of Kenya Wildlife Service to combat international wildlife trafficking at source, thereby improving national security and stability in the rural and border areas by disrupting illicit networks involved in poaching and illegal trade of wildlife.
Specifically, the money will be used in wildlife security enhancement, equipping the forensic laboratory and outreach, public awareness and education on poaching.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the announcement at the just-ended London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade which ran from February 13 to 14.
"Illegal wildlife trafficking is known to fund the drug trade, corruption and terrorist activities in Africa," said Mr Baird. "Canada continues to make a positive contribution to this fight."
In his address to the conference, Mr Baird recommended that the world take urgent and decisive action to deal with the current poaching crisis that threatens the survival of the African elephant and
rhinoceros populations and has dire consequences for security, governance and the livelihoods of communities.
Prof Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources led a high-powered Kenyan delegation that included KWS officials to the London conference.
Illegal trade in wildlife has increased exponentially over the past five to seven years and affects international security, stability, governance and biodiversity.
At the 63rd Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species meeting, Kenya was identified as one of the eight countries of concern with respect to illegal trade in elephant ivory and directed to put in place targeted actions aimed at reducing the illegal trade.
On the eve of Christmas last year, Kenya's President, Uhuru Kenyatta assented into law the Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill 2013 which has stiffer penalties for wildlife crimes.