The Star (Nairobi)

30 August 2011

Kenya: Penalties for Wildlife Crimes Too Lenient

THE Kenya Wildlife Service now wants punitive clauses inserted in the draft Wildlife Policy and Bill to deter poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products.

KWS director Julius Kipng'etich said the current law is lenient to wildlife offenders. "The fines for those who violate the wildlife law have been Sh2,000 only and this has seen many alleged law breakers admit to the crimes because they know the punishment is lenient and they can pay penalties with ease. The punishment should be made punitive to make law breakers never wish to do it again. In China, a country that has no elephants, for instance, those found trading illegally in ivory are subjected to almost life in prison. It is funny that in Kenya the same criminals can only walk away by paying a petty fine," Kipng'etich said.

He also called for categorisation of crime against wildlife to be placed under economic crimes which attracts a fine not exceeding Sh1million or jail-term of a period not exceeding ten years or both. "This will completely deter poaching helping us conserve our wildlife with ease hence position Kenya to take advantage of the natural resource to march to a middle income economy dream," he said. Kipng'etich spoke at the national consensus stakeholders' workshop on the draft Wildlife Policy and Bill 2011 held in Nairobi yesterday.

According to Dr Dominic Walubengo the consultant who is drafting the Policy and the Bill he said the Draft Wildlife Policy 2011 will replace the current 1975 policy which had failed to address the human wildlife conflict and compensation issues in cases of damaged properties and human deaths.

On the Bill the Walubengo said it will replace the Wildlife Act of 1976, implement the 2011 policy and address the inefficiency of the current wildlife act if enacted into law. "The policy and the Bill now still at the formulation stage will also map out ways on how partnerships and integration among key stakeholders can be infused into wildlife conservation and as well how the wildlife resources can be exploited and benefits equitably shared to enhance conservation and management," he said. "For now we are still receiving submissions on how this policy and bill should look be all members of public are invited to submit their views before we can compile them and forward them to relevant authorities before they can be tabled to cabinet and parliament to make them law," Ali Mwachai PS ministry of wildlife and forestry said.

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