Good news for some of the world’s largest endangered land mammals: The Kenyan parliament has approved emergency measures to counter the poaching crisis that should lead to higher penalties for poachers.
“The passing of this bill is a huge victory, it is the strongest message from the Government of Kenya on the commitment to preserve our national heritage. MPs today voted for Kenya to restore her position as a global leader in wildlife conservation,” said Paula Kahumbu, the Executive Director of Kenya-based NGO, WildlifeDirect.
However, Cachu Ganya, made a statement to fellow legislators, “Kenya’s elephants declined from 160,000 in 1960s to 16,000 in 1989 due to poaching. Today Kenya is home to only 38,500 elephants and 1,025 rhinos. These animals are a major tourism attraction and anyone who threatens them is committing economic sabotage and should be treated as such.” This obvious monetary value placed on the animals is one motivator for the increased fines and jail time. Regardless, it is a celebratory event for conservationists. Ganya advocated for fines to raise to $120,000 and up to 15 years in jail, a respective raise by 25 and 7 to the current law.
An elephant or rhino can survive the removal of a tusk or horn, yet most poachers decapitate their victims or chainsaw too close to the skin. Some conservation programs are carefully removing these to eliminating the appeal for poaching.
If you are interested in supporting orphaned elephants and rhinos, please view my previous post about fostering.
Image Source: “Rhino Wars”, National Geographic, March 2013