The National Assembly has urged the Chinese government to demonstrate its true friendship by not buying ivory from the country.
This came after MPs passed a motion compelling the government to tighten measures to curb wildlife poaching.They include increasing the number of rangers in game parks and introducing more punitive measures to deter the illegal trade. The MPs asked the Chinese and Thai governments not to buy ivory because it has enhanced poaching in the country. The two countries are the major ivory consumers while Vietnam continues to be the main transit point.
Environment and Natural Resources committee chairperson Amina Abdalla said airport authorities are working in cahoots with the poachers to smuggle ivory out of the country. "I'm aware that lights at JKIA are switched off when elephant tusks are on transit," she said. Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery said poachers are enemies of the economy.
"China is our development friend. Her continued buying of these products serve to promote the illegal act (poaching) in the country," he said.
Nkaissery accused the Kenya Wildlife Service of inefficiency, corruption and failing to involve the local communities in the care of wildlife.
Minority Leader Francis Nyenze urged the government to allocate adequate resources to rangers. "The act of dehorning the elephants is wrong. The government must employ modern technologies and those caught imprisoned for life. But as long as there is demand, the illegal act will always fight back," he said.
Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu said the government must protect local communities from marauding animals. "The communities must stand to benefit and be involved in the management of wildlife," he said.
Murang'a county MP Sabina Chege said it is important to preserve wildlife as it largely contributes to Kenya's income. "Tourism contributes 12 per cent to our GDP, three elephants are killed daily so there is need for the government to worry about poaching," she said. More than 600 pieces of ivory worth Sh100 million were intercepted at the Port of Mombasa in March en route to Indonesia.
North Horr MP Chachu Ganya who sponsored the motion said more than 1,000 elephants have died in the last three years. "The government declared poaching a disaster. A pound of ivory can now fetch more than $1,000 (Sh82,000) in the black market. China in particular is a market hub for poached ivory from this region," he said.
Chachu said more than 211 elephants were poached in 2011; 384 in 2012 and 74 have been killed so far this year. He said the illegal trade has impacted negatively on tourism and the entire economy.