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Kenyan Legal System To Blame For Elephant Wildlife Trafficking

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Conservationists have warned that Kenya may lose all elephants to poachers in the next 10 years if penalties against poachers and traffickers are not increased.

Wildlife Direct Director Dr. Paula Kahumbu on Tuesday evening told journalists in Nairobi that the sentence given to those found guilty is lenient hence more deaths of elephants.

The judiciary must be ready to sentence offenders heavily to help stop the trafficking of ivory in Africa,” she observed during a talk at the National Museums of Kenya.

Kahumbu noted that her organization is engaging the judiciary in awareness creation after it emerged that many magistrates and prosecutors do not know the importance of wildlife, hence the light sentence against perpetrators as opposed to what other countries are doing.

She noted that the current sentence of 10 years and a fine of 470 U.S. dollars is only helping traffickers go scot free since their agents are capable of paying the fine.

She suggested that all traffickers be given life imprisonment and a fine of no less than 235,000 dollars to help stop the cartels from destroying the wonders of nature.

Kahumbu revealed that a study that was done by her organization this year in 15 courts in the country, found out that 2,000 people are arrested every year with offenses on poaching and trafficking but only 10 percent are taken to court.

He said that 52 percent of them plead guilty with only 5 percent sentenced to jail as the remaining 95 percent are fined and set free.

The fines are small and therefore makes the cases look like cover up by the court system since sometimes, the files disappear and never to be seen again,” she added.

Kahumbu noted that Kenya that is currently number two in the world for trafficking ivory is being used as a highway by traffickers who sell ivory in Europe and Asia.

She observed that the ivory trade is an organized international crime that is equivalent to the blood diamond trade in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is used to cause chaos in Africa.

She called on Kenyans to change their attitude towards wildlife conservation and embrace eco–tourism as a way of earning a living.

Elephants are part of climate change adaptation process as they help keep the habitat open, dig water by their trunks and people end up using the same water ponds,” she noted.

She challenged other African governments to emulate Tanzania and Botswana that have placed heavy punishment and also banned trafficking of ivory in their countries and to support the global ban of ivory trade.

NMK Director of Research Geoffrey Mwachalla called for the retraining and equipping of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers to help control the menace.

He noted that officials found colluding with offenders should also be heavily punished to help reduce trafficking and poaching.


Conservationists Decry Elephant Poaching In Northern Kenya

ISIOLO, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s community conservancy has raised concern over elephant poaching in northern Kenya and called for proper coordination among stakeholders to reduce case of poaching in the region.

Northern Range Land Trust (NRT) said poaching is particularly rampant in Isiolo and Samburu region, and urged relevant authorities to combat the situation.

The project’s chief manager Tom Lalampa said on Wednesday that the region lost 134 elephants last year alone, while in 2011, 101 elephants were killed and in 2010, 63 elephants were wiped out as result of poaching in northern Kenya.

We are worried with the current trend of poaching in the region because some time poachers penetrate into protected areas and kill the wild animals,” Lalampa told Xinhua in Isiolo.

Lalampa said the organization has partnered with mobile firm Safaricom to track the suspected poachers in order to reduce the cases of wildlife killings in the area.

He raised concern that poaching has been complex and increasing day by day in the region with use of sophisticated equipment which makes it hard to curb the practice.

The conservation group has created several conservancies in northern Kenya where they recruited rangers and provided land cruisers to step up the fight against poaching in the vast and remote locations in northern Kenya.

Isiolo county commissioner Wanyama Musiambo warned that the government will put in place stringent security measures to avert elephant killings in the area.

Wanyama warned that the poachers must know that their days are numbered with coordination of two security teams from the region.

We want to assure our partners and the donors that we are going to put in place all the necessary measures to ensure that those behind the killings were arrested and prosecuted,” Wanyama said.

According to the recently released elephants statistics in the area, the number of elephants has reduced from 7,415 in 2008 census to 6,361 in the 2012 census while that of grevy zebra had also gone down from 2,400 in 2008 to 1870 in 2012 aerial count.

The Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) attributed the sudden fall of the figure to increased poaching due to high market demand for ivory, drought, climate change and lack of pumps and signs along Isiolo-Moyale highway where several zebras were killed.

I will not accept to supervise as director where animals were killed in masses, I rather resign and watch from outside,” KWS director William Kiprono said.

He said the KWS will modernize its service to control the menace to zero percent tolerance to poaching and spread officers all over the vast areas to combat the challenges.

Kiprono said the role to protect wildlife should not be left to KWS alone but other security agents, community and partners must take responsibility in safeguarding and protecting the animals.

We want everybody to stand up for this, because the world should not keep quiet while consumers have gone to the next level, “ said the director.


Tanzania’s National Park Threatened By Human Settlements

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- The Arusha National Park is threatened to turn into a zoo as the wild animals’ home has been surrounded by human settlements, an expert said on Saturday.

James Wakibara, Chief Ecologist with the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), warned that if the trend is left unchecked, the park will become a history of the past.

All animals, and even humans, must move from one place to another at times, while this is important for grazing, it plays a major role when it comes to mating and breeding,” the ecologist said when speaking at the Regional Consultative Committee meeting to address the threats which Arusha National Park is facing.

Wakibara noted that human beings have blocked all passages, causing the wildlife in Arusha National Park to be tightly confined within the small park.

The ecologist warned that since the animals cannot move from the park into other area, they face the danger of inbreeding which means animals have to mate and reproduce among own flock, making them susceptible to diseases, albinism and other forms of nature attacks.

Previously, animal corridors used to connect Arusha National Park with West Kilimanjaro wilderness in the leeward of the continent’s highest mountain, as well as Amboseli National Park just across the border into Kenya, but all these passages have been blocked by human settlements.

Located few kilometers from Arusha, Tanzania’s northern safari capital, Arusha National Park is a home to giraffe, buffalo, zebra, warthog, the black-and-white Colobus monkey, the blue monkey, flamingo and large python. African elephants as well as leopards are present, but rarely seen and lions have disappeared from the park.

The park attracts to more than 120,000 tourists every year, who go there for wildlife viewing, game driving, walking safaris, canoeing as well as mountain climbing.

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