By Jerome Starkey
Campaigners in Kenya opened a new front in the war on poaching yesterday, with a website dedicated to naming and shaming the culprits behind the slaughter of Africa's wild animals.
Kenyans United Against Poaching (Kuapo) launched PoachersExposed.com <http://PoachersExposed.com> to publish the names and photographs of convicted poachers, smugglers and buyers who are fuelling an illegal market that US officials fear is the fourth largest in the world.
"Your name is going to be there, in front of everyone, whether you poach an elephant or a dik-dik [small antelope\," said Salisha Chandra, the coordinator of Kuapo. "And it's not just the person who shoots the bullets, but the middlemen and the person who buys it at the other end as well."
More than 40 per cent of Kenyans have access to the internet, mostly through their mobile phones, according to government statistics, making the country one of the most cyber-savvy in Africa.
The PoachersExposed website will also collate details on courts, magistrates and prosecutors to see which ones get the best results and whether any are being suspiciously lenient.
The only case listed last night was that of a Kenyan man caught hunting a warthog, a first-time offender, who was sentenced to four years in prison. It was an unusually severe sentence in a country where ivory smugglers - including a former US colonel - are let off with fines of [pounds sterling\ 225 for carrying thousands of pounds worth of tusks. "There are so many arrests, but there is so little follow-up. This is a way of making sure the poaching story doesn't die," Ms Chandra said. More....