By Wolfgang H. Thome
Two suspected poachers were shot dead in an exchange of fire with game rangers at Kenya’s Meru National Park, it was learned overnight. With the new wildlife law now in effect after formally publishing it in the government owned Kenya Gazette, poachers now face life prison terms and fines up to 20 million Kenya Shillings, apparently not an acceptable prospect for the two who tried to shoot their way out of being captured.
From reports received it appears that several others managed to escape though indications are that at least one of the fugitives was wounded in the gun battle.
A rhino was found injured near the scene of the shootout and is being treated for wounds on the leg sustained by a bullet.
Meanwhile more arrests were carried out country wide as the war on poaching now gains momentum, as magistrates now are under close scrutiny over rulings on bail and their eventual judgments in cases before them, to fully throw the book at the suspects when found guilty. Another arrest of a Chinese man in transit from Mozambique, who was found with blood ivory in his baggage, is now thought to be a litmus case of what sentences smugglers can from now on expect when nabbed in Kenya and lobbyists have already demanded that a full life sentence be applied, as well as the maximum fine, in order to deter others from using Kenya as a transit route for smuggled blood ivory coming from other parts of Africa.
Momentum is also building in Hong Kong over plans to destroy their huge stock of seized ivory by either crushing it or burning it, which would take the Chinese token action two weeks ago, when a fraction of the mainland ivory held was destroyed. The 6 ton destruction, while broadly welcomed as a step in the right direction, also prompted calls for China to stop dilly dallying and destroy their entire ivory stock, ban importation and prohibit processing and owning of ivory carvings after a given due date.
‘China made a small gesture when they destroyed 6 tons of blood ivory. I think they have finally come to terms with reality that their intransigence and covert tolerance of ivory carving and possession has earned them nothing but bad publicity around the world. It was a step in the right direction but they need to join the civilized nations of this world in stopping the trade. They are without doubt responsible for the wholesome slaughter of elephant in Africa and there will be no end to expose them and publicly hang them out to dry unless they play their part in ending the elephant killings’ wrote the source from Nairobi when passing the details of the Meru shootout. Bouquets for Kenya and barbs for China, until proven otherwise.