Conservationists in Kenya have launched an international campaign to push the government to urgently amend the Wildlife Bill so as to provide more deterrent penalties for illegal trade in ivory.
The group, Concerned Conservationists Kenya, is worried over the continuous loss of key species including rhinos, elephants and lions through the illegal trade believed to be facilitated by criminal syndicates.
The campaign coincides with research released last week in which Kenya Wildlife Services scientists and their US counterparts that found that KWS has failed to contain elephant poaching.
The peer review research in the reputable Australia-based Wildlife Research journal concluded that poaching in Kenya has now reached alarming levels. Elephant poaching escalated between 1999 and 2002 but drastically reduced in 2003 only to rise sharply thereafter.
Wildlife tourism continues to play a important role in conservation and raising much needed revenues. With the current high rate of poaching, this income, together with Kenya’s heritage, is in danger of decline. Stiff penalties are necessary to discourage poaching and trade in proceeds of poaching.
Kenya is due to attend the international convention Cites CoP 16th meeting in Thailand next month where the issue will be addressed. Something tangible needs to be done before then, and a detailed action plan prepared to counter countries pushing for legalization of the trade in ivory, and to save our wildlife.