Kenya: Bill seeks to raise poaching penalties

Come on Kenya, let’s make it happen.

Kenya MPs will today be requested to approve an emergency amendment to the Wildlife Act.

The ammendement proposes raising penalties for killing elephants to up to 15 years in jail and/or a fine of Sh10 million (USD1.1m). These penalties are equivalent to those under the Economic Crimes Act, the Organised Crime Act and the Anti-Terrorism Crime Act.

Kenya is currently renowned for low penalties for poachers and traffickers of ivory who are fined as low as Sh40,000 (USD475) for ivory seizures worth tens of millions of shillings. The poachers are rarely jailed.

Conservationists are convinced that low penalties have been no deterrent at all and instead have been attracting criminal cartels involved in ivory and rhino horn trade.

Despite the urgency of tackling the poaching crisis, efforts to amend the Wildlife Act have stalled since 2007.

The motion is being moved by a private member, North Horr MP Chachu Ganya.

“My home Marsabit is known for its elephants. I have an opportunity to use my time in Parliament to do something about it. Higher penalties will save elephants and this is essential for our tourism industry.”

Kenya Wildlife Service head of species Patrick Omondi said the organisation supports the bill. “It will support our efforts in law enforcement,” Omondi said in an interview.