The Star (Nairobi)

21 May 2012

Kenya: Global Campaign to Amend Wildlife Bill

The police and Kenya Wildlife Service officers have launched a manhunt for suspects believed to have killed six lions Wednesday morning in ... ( Resource: Kenya: Maasai Herdsmen Kill Six Lions

Conservationists in Kenya have launched an international campaign to push the government to set up an emergency amendment of the penalty section of the Wildlife Bill to reduce illegal trading of ivory. The group, Concerned Conservationists Kenya, is worried over the continuous loss of key species including the rhino, elephants and lion through the illegal trade believed to be facilitated by criminalized syndicates.

Already the group is filling an online petition through Facebook, twitter, and email to get 1,000 signatures to petition President Kibaki to take action to ensure the stiff penalties are imposed. The petition is being filed in support of the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Noah Wekesa's request to the President to move a motion through presidential decree increasing the penalties for poaching and assisting in the illegal wildlife trade with special relevance to elephants, rhino and lion species.

Currently the petition is available on Avaaz organization website, a global campaign network with 14 million people and has already registered 914 signers from different parts of the world for the petition. Avaaz which means 'voice' or 'song' in many languages has membership all over the world and ensures views and values of the world's people shape global decision making.

The report posted to the Kenya Mammal Marine Network website by Mark Kinyua the Marine Park Warden South Coast at Kenya Wildlife Service said President Kibaki should address the issue immediately before Kenya attends CITES CoP 16th meeting in Thailand next month. The report warned that failure to set up new penalties the country would not only loose its greatest assets but also its credibility across the international conservation arena a place where Kenya was once looked upon as world leaders.

"We humbly request the President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E Mwai Kibaki to address this issue immediately while there is still time. Not least that when Kenya attends the CITES CoP 16th meeting in Thailand next march the Kenyan team is not accused of not practicing what they preach in so much as Kenya is not taking the protection of its elephants and rhino seriously," said the report in part.

The report said there were greatest fears that Kenya will be regarded as failures in the conservation efforts without setting up the legal deterrent measures tthat will place penalties in the bill if it becomes into law. They said the country should not wait for International condemnation or for the consumers from the entire Far Eastern Culture to change and instead mobilize all available resources and coordinate a nationawide collaborative approach that will prevent any illegal organization or individuals the freedom to operate the illegal trade.

"We are rapidly losing major keystone species such as elephant and rhino to a trade facilitated by criminalized syndicates. Unfortunately the levels of international unrest and wider economic crisis have eclipsed the need for greater awareness and decisive action across the international stage. Only when these criminal networks have wiped out our elephants and rhino will the true catastrophe be realized, ecologically and economically," said in the report in part.

The conservationists said there was urgent need for rapid enactment and enforcement of laws that were applicable adding that if the government does not increase the penalties for poaching of such important species it will loose its credibility.

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