Kenya to pass new stringent Wildlife legislation but will it be enough to save wildlife?

Kenyan lawmakers are expected to pass major new wildlife legislation this week. WildlifeDirect is lobbying for lengthy jail sentences but is against the proposed minimum sentence of life imprisonment. Life imprisonment sounds good but will be impossible to implement and is likely to result in an extremely high rate of case dismissals and acquittals. We propose “Up to life imprisonment” for killing elephants and rhino or  trading in their products.

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This will force magistrates to treat these crimes as felonies which will allow for lengthy jail sentences. Wildlife crimes are currently treated as petty offences and fewer than 5% of convictions lead to jail sentences.


chachu and Paula small

Loise Njagi, Hon Chachu Ganya and Paula Kahumbu outside Parliament buildings in Kenya when the new legislation was first proposed earlier this year.

Dr Paula Kahumbu spoke to the Rt Hon. Owen Paterson, the British Secretary of State for the Environment about the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign plans, achievements and ideas for moving forward. She explained the implications of the new legislation and how it is essential to halt the decline of Kenya’s iconic species.  He assured her and all Kenyans that Britain will help Kenya. Kenya is one of the worlds most renowned countries for wildlife tourism and tourism generates 12% of the national GDP and employs over 300,000 people. Despite this,  the very wildlife that tourism depends on is declining due to land use change, habitat change, land degradation, illegal hunting and trafficking of wildlife products.

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Kahumbu emphasized that while new legislation is an important part of protecting the wildlife asset of Kenya but alone it will not be enough.  Law enforcement agencies are not currently using existing legislation to it’s fullest extent. She explained that the WildlifeDirect strategy is to initiate a response to the poaching crisis through behaviour change and reform across different scales and through connections between different players from communities to governments and international organizations.

  1. At the local level we must address communities, and their needs. Poverty amongst park adjacent people makes wildlife vulnerable to habitat degradation and illegal hunting. We think that Kenya’s development plans must prioritize these people so that development is planned in a sensitive way, targeting the communities around protected areas.
  2. We must make sure that KWS is an agency of excellence. Urgently needed is an assessment of  the organizations capacity vis a vis it’s mandate to identify the challenges and current and future needs.
  3. Institutional: Threats facing wildlife are of security, economic, tourism. social, political and heritage concern. To succeed in protecting Kenya’s unique wildlife asset, we must ensure excellent interactions between different government and non government agencies. This includes strengthening legislation, judiciary, and ensuring compliance and enforcement of the legislation. We must identify the gaps and loopholes being used by smugglers and poachers, and their financiers.This requires an inter-agency approach to fight the poaching of wildlife and trafficking of ivory and rhino horn.
  4. Kenya alone cannot stop the poaching and trafficking of ivory and rhino horn, it will require an international approach to successfully track  the criminal cartels and bring them to justice. It will involve working with international groups such as the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, Interpol and others, and it will require the same level of sophistication that is used to track any other organized crimes.

At the end of a round table discussion with the Kenyan Conservation Community including Save the Elephants, The Tsavo Trust, African Wildlife Foundation Hon Paterson asked what we wanted to see as a conclusion of the Lancaster House meetings in February 2014. Kahumbu said the best outcome would be an agreement by all countries to domestic bans on ivory trade.

What do you think? What would you like to see concluded at the Lancaster House meeting?







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4 comments on “Kenya to pass new stringent Wildlife legislation but will it be enough to save wildlife?

  1. sharon on said:

    Ban all ivory trade throughout the world.Burn all stockpiles.

  2. Birgitt Horn on said:

    Commitment to and delivery of education on poaching and the effects of poaching
    An absolute ban on all ivory trade.
    No one-off sales of confiscated ivory
    Destruction of confiscated ivory
    Those convicted of poaching (any poaching) or dealing I. The fruits of poaching to face mandatory imprisonment without the option of a fine.
    Stiffer jail time
    Special anti poaching prosecutors being trained

  3. julie titcombe on said:

    Please, Please, stop the poaching and make sure the culprits get sufficient sentences to punish their crimes and act as deterent to others. They must have long sentence to protect the right of elephants, rhinos, etc, and to ensure African wildlife is there for future generations to witness their splendour. No other country has this wildlife and they must all be protected and not killed to extinction by so called humans who do not care about our planet but just go out for greed. Kenya is taking the right steps but things need to move very fast to protect the remaining elephants and reduce the number of babies witnessing the slaughter of their mothers and family members. Some are lucky to be rescued by the DSWT in Nairobi, (I’ve visited over 60 times to see the orphans and we have fostered 6 babies). They still suffer trauma of their experiences and it takes a long time for them to be rehabilitated by people to do care. I want to come back to Kenya to see your wildlife time and time again, so please do the right thing and ensure new laws are passed in Government for wildlife. Thank you for starting the ball rolling and may other countries follow your example. Please help the elephant and wildlife. Thank you again. Julie from UK.

  4. julie titcombe on said:

    See above comments.

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