Kenya on Friday commissioned a forensic and genetics laboratory to enable court prosecutors arm themselves with concrete scientific evidence to prosecute animal poachers.
According to the government, the rate of poaching for bush-meat and trophies, is leading to alarming decline of wildlife biodiversity. The rhino and the elephant which are classified as critically endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are particularly affected.
"It is envisaged that the establishment of a Wildlife Forensic and Genetics Laboratory in Kenya will aid in the provision of accurate identification of wildlife and wildlife products in order to strengthen prosecution of wildlife crimes," said the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu.
Speaking in Nairobi on Friday, she said prosecutors need concrete scientific evidence to corroborate their allegation that a product is from wildlife of a particular species.
"Without scientific evidence, suspects are usually acquitted which tends to encourage repeat offence while law enforcers may become demoralized," she added.
She said that the increasing demand for bush meat, wildlife trophies such as rhino horns and elephant tusks, skins of animals, feathers of birds, as well as live pets such as chameleons and parrots, is alarming and resulting in direct loss of African biodiversity.
"The establishment of the laboratory is critical to yielding convictions in courts of law and thus deter wildlife crimes," she added.