On Friday a Vietnamese man was fined Sh40,000 for smuggling Sh5.7 million of ivory through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
This ruling was totally ridiculous. It as if a robber steals $1,000,000 from a bank and is fined $10,000 after he is caught. The punishment should fit the crime.
If the dealer is caught with Sh5 million of illegal ivory, he should be fined Sh50 million, or five years in jail. There should be a rule that the fine is ten times the value of the ivory or rhino horn.
This is not an isolated case. Elephant and rhino poachers in Kenya are routinely let off with negligible fines. This is an incentive to become a poacher. You have everything to gain and virtually nothing to lose.
In his inaugural address at Kasarani, President Kenyatta promised that his government would crack down on poachers. The conservation community responded by writing to the Chief Justice asking for stiffer sentences.
Meanwhile thousands of elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered every year in East Africa. This is a conservation and tourism disaster. Something needs to be done urgently. It is tragic that nothing was done at Makadara magistratres court on Friday.