By Wolfgang H. Thome
News broke yesterday evening that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has suspended at least 32 senior personnel, now suspected to have participated in poaching or aided poaching gangs through various means across Kenya.
KWS Executive Director William Kiprono confirmed the development when presiding over the annual Mt. Longonot Wheel Barrow Race and reaffirmed that should the internal investigations now underway find those accused guilty, they would be dismissed and charged in courts of law to face justice.
Kenya’s elephant and rhino population and also other species have come under increasing threat in recent years, when poaching was re-kindled to levels last seen in the late 1970s and 1980s. In recent weeks several massacres among the elephant population, and the killing of several rhinos in one single week, have raised public alarm and triggered action on several levels, including on the political front.
Kenya’s cabinet last week sanctioned a package of measures to introduce to parliament for amendments to the Wildlife Act, aimed at increasing fines and raising jail terms for those found poaching, trading, and otherwise being involved in illicit trade of rhino horns, blood ivory, and other trophies.
Only two weeks ago KWS, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, launched a major manhunt for poaching gangs and has since also stepped up monitoring and intelligence gathering, thought responsible for the action now taken against the officers who were suspended.