By Paula Kahumbu
Kenya's Cabinet has approved a complete overhaul of the country's national wildlife legislation by approving the Wildlife Bill and Policy, in one of the swiftest responses to the recent reports of escalating poaching of elephants and rhinos. Parliament is expected to quickly ratify this decision which will open a new era of wildlife conservation in Kenya where tourism which is largely wildlife-based generates 12% of the Gross Domestic Product and creates over 300,000 jobs.
In passing the Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill and Policy, the Cabinet directed that the measures be fully implemented to bring to a stop cases of poaching in the country and streamline management of wildlife services.
In this regard, some of the measures adapted by Cabinet were:
Establishment of an inter-agency security team composed of personnel from KWS and the Police Service to continuously track down and apprehend bandits in the wildlife sanctuaries including private conservancy areas. The team will also intensify surveillance in wildlife zones.
A crash-programme to increase KWS rangers by 1,000.
Those behind the poaching business should be marked, named and arrested.
The sacking of any KWS official who has been conniving with the poachers.
Increased fines of up to one million shillings for those found to be engaged in poaching.
Confiscate property that has been acquired through proceeds of poaching.
Search any vehicle or vessel and seize and detain any wildlife specimens in respect of which there is reason to believe that an offence has been committed, together with any tools, equipment, vessels or vehicles used in the commission of the offence. More....