The Star (Nairobi)

4 May 2012

Kenya: KWS Director Calls for Stiffer Fines, Jail Terms for Poachers

A Kenya Wildlife Service official has urged the government to review the penalties on poaching in bid to end the illegal activities. Senior assistant director in charge endangered species Patrick Omondi said offenders should get high fines, or jail terms without the option of a fine. He was speaking during a one-day workshop organised by the NGO Friends of Conservation in Narok town yesterday.

Omondi said it is embarrassing to see the culprits still enjoying freedom yet they have drastically reduced wildlife species. "The culprits should be fined not less Sh5 million or a five-year jail term without an option of fine. The current one is weak and promotes poaching," said Omondi. This comes at a time when the chairman of the KWS board of directors David Mwiraria said rangers will soon get sophisticated guns to fight poachers in national parks.

Omondi said the number of elephants and rhinos are on the decline because poachers are targeting them. "Poaching is now a serious threat to the survival of wildlife. If not checked, it will kill the multibillion tourism industry," he said. He urged communities living around national parks and game reserves to assist KWS by reporting the poachers. "The increase of poaching activities can be blamed on high demand of ivory and other wild animals' products in foreign countries like China; which is making poachers hunt the animals by all means," said Omondi.

At the same time, Omondi has said his KWS has launched 'Operation Linda Ndovu' to reduce poaching and safeguard endangered species. He said that they have launched investigations after claims that helicopters have been landing in Mosiro area in Narok South district to collect elephant tusks. FOC executive director Haji Ogle urged the state to educate locals on the need to conserve the environment in order to reduce poaching. South Rift regional vommissioner Naftali Mung'athia called for concerted efforts from wananchi and other stakeholders to eradicate poaching.

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