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MISSUE NO. 3621 

May 24 - 30, 2013

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

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Parliament to speed up enactment
of wildlife law to curb poaching

Kenya wildlife enthusiasts have been banking on the
passage of the new Wildlife Bill 2011 to reduce the
rising cases of poaching in the East African nation

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government will lobby Parliament to fast track a Wildlife Bill to make poaching an economic crime, the country’s vice president said on Tuesday.

Vice President William Ruto who held a meeting with the new Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources Minister Judy Wakhungu and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) board, said anyone found poaching should face severe punishment including life imprisonment.

The Wildlife Policy and Wildlife Bill 2012 which was approval by the Cabinet last October will provide a comprehensive institutional framework for managing wildlife, human wildlife conflict, and compensation and ensures that wildlife is beneficial to those who live with the wildlife.

The Bill which is due to be debated in Parliament on Wednesday establishes the Kenya Wildlife and Forestry Regulatory Council, County Wildlife Conservation Committees, Wildlife Conservation Fund and restructures the KWS to fit within the new regulatory framework.

Kenya wildlife enthusiasts have been banking on the passage of the new Wildlife Bill 2011 to reduce the rising cases of poaching in the East African nation.

The law proposes severe punishment for poachers and people-led wildlife conservancy efforts. The proposed bill has also recommended severe crime for poachers, since poaching will be like an organized crime under the law.

During the Tuesday’s meeting, Ruto said the management of the wildlife agency to dismiss any employee found to be involved in the menace or colluding with poachers.

This followed complaints by the board that most poachers were given free or leaner bonds of up to 240 U.S. dollars by courts.

The KWS management said they had identified staff who were involved in the poaching network. They also asked the government to provide enough equipment for its anti-poaching team.

Under the proposed new law, offences relating to sport hunting will attract fine no less than 23,500 dollars or imprisonment no less than seven years, while other crimes carry a fine of at least 5,800 dollars and imprisonment of no less than two years.

The fines are severe than the existing average of 200 dollars charged for various wildlife crimes.

Conservationists have argued that lenient wildlife crime laws are attracting poachers to traffic animal trophies through Kenyan, because they know that even if they are arrested, the punishment is not severe.

The KWS has expressed fears that the scenes of 1970s and 1980s when poaching was a serious menace, and contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos are back, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal populations that had started to balloon. 

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Eight countries submit national action plans
to combat illegal trade in elephant ivory    

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- Eight countries submitted plans with time frames and milestones to combat illegal trade in elephant ivory, the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) announced Friday.

China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania and Vietnam, identified as primary source, transit and import countries affected by illegal trade in ivory, were requested by the CITES Standing Committee last March to make the plans as a response to the dramatic rise in the number of elephants poached for their ivory.

Each plan specifies activities in the areas of legislation and regulations, national and international enforcement, outreach and public awareness, according to CITES spokesman Juan Carlos Vasquez.

He said the eight countries were requested to take urgent measures to put their plans into practice before July 2014, when the CITES Standing Committee will review their implementation.

The secretariat will work closely with the countries concerned in monitoring their implementation, which may involve missions on site, he said.

The Standing Committee also identified two additional groups of countries that need to adopt measures in the near future. The first group, including Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Mozambique and Nigeria, will need to develop action plans this year.

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Kenya trains community rangers
to help boost wildlife security

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said Thursday it has trained 68 community rangers to help beef up wildlife security efforts to curb rising incidents of poaching across the East African nation.

KWS Corporate Affairs Manager Paul Udoto said the community rangers who have graduated at the KWS training school after undergoing a three-month rigorous training will also help protect tourists and prevent human wildlife conflict.

“The community rangers have for the last three months been trained at the academy by KWS in basic paramilitary procedures, management information systems (MIST), human wildlife conflict, enterprise development models, marketing of products and services, compensation claims and procedures as well as the KWS organizational structure and operations among other disciplines,” Udoto said.

“The training is meant to build capacity of landowners who host wildlife on their land to actively engage in sustainable wildlife conservation with the aim of realizing decent livelihoods from sound environmental management,” he added by telephone.

Udoto said the community rangers who selected from various conservancies across the country will work closely with KWS rangers to help in scaling up efforts to salvage the remaining elephants in Kenya, 74 elephants having already been killed in the first 3 months of 2013 alone.

The wildlife agency has enhanced the round-the-clock surveillance at all Kenya’s entry exit and entry points while sniffer dogs and their handlers have proved incorruptible and have once again outsmarted wildlife smugglers.

KWS efforts last year resulted in notable recoveries of illegal wildlife trophies and firearms, including 80 rifles, 2,777 rounds of ammunition and several magazines which have been recovered since January last year.

The wildlife agency also impounded 46 vehicles, 38 motorbikes, 46 bicycles and a hand drawn cart in various parts of the country. In addition, 1,677 pieces of ivory weighing 4,644 kilograms were been recovered in 2012.

During the same year, the KWS said seven rhino horns weighing 14 kilograms were also recovered. Other assorted crude weapons in possession of poachers recovered include poisoned arrows, bows, snares, axes, machetes, knives, spears, power saws and hand saws.

The East African nation says it’s at a point where it cannot allow further poaching of wildlife because the animal numbers have been reducing at an alarming rate.

Udoto said the focus of the community rangers’ training has been on practical wildlife management strategies, basic paramilitary training in order to standardize protocols of management, command structures and reporting procedures in these institutions.

KWS Director William Kiprono who presided over the pass-out parade challenged the recruits to use the skills they had acquired during the three months intensive training to counter poaching cases across the country.

Kiprono warned that poachers have since gone hi-tech and are using sophisticated weaponry to advance their tactics.

Kiprono announced that the Service through the KWS board in collaboration with the Kenya Police Service is in the process of requesting for the issuance of firearms to the community rangers in a bid to strengthen their capacity in handling poaching.

“Apart from training more community rangers, KWS intends to undertake for the first time a conversion course for the conservancy managers in the next financial year,” Kiprono said. 

 

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