Kenya Announces Death Penalty for Poachers


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Kenya is home to a number of iconic animals ranging from elephants and rhinoceros to giraffes, leopards and cheetahs. Elephants and rhinoceros are among the most threatened, as their tusks and horns make them prime targets to poachers.

It’s illegal to kill the endangered animals in Kenya, and the Wildlife Conservation Act, put in place in 2013, carries a life sentence or fine of $200,000 for offenders.

However, according to Najib Balala, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, “This has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching.” As a result, a much harsher sentence has now been announced: poachers in Kenya will now face the death penalty.

The measure has brought about both praise from those hopeful that the stiffer sentence will save the species at risk and backlash, from those opposed to capital punishment.

Elephants and rhinoceros are among the most threatened species in Kenya, as their tusks and horns make them prime targets to poachers
It’s illegal to kill the endangered animals in Kenya, and the Wildlife Conservation Act, put in place in 2013, carries a life sentence or fine of $200,000 for offenders; however, the sentences weren’t acting as a strong enough deterrence
A much harsher sentence has now been announced: poachers in Kenya will face the death penalty; the measure has brought about both praise from those hopeful that the stiffer sentence will save the species at risk and backlash, from those opposed to capital punishment

Large Herbivores in Kenya Continue To Be Killed by Poachers

Poaching in Kenya has been on the decline due to increased attention to conservation and wildlife law-enforcement efforts. Compared to 2012 and 2013, rhino poaching in the area has declined by 85 percent and elephant poaching by 78 percent.2 Still, the animals are in peril.

Black rhinos in Kenya number at under 1,000 whereas the elephant population is hovering around 34,000. And in 2017, nine rhinos and 69 elephants were killed by poachers, which is enough to “virtually cancel out the overall population’s growth rate,” the Save the Rhino organization told The Independent.3

Elephants are an attractive target to poachers, as their ivory tusks are carved into jewelry, utensils, religious figurines and other trinkets in the Far East. According to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), up to 70 percent of illegal ivory ends up in China, where it sells for up to $1,000 a pound.

China enacted a ban on ivory that took effect January 1, 2018, but black markets still remain.4 Rhino horns are also sought out by poachers, as the horns are believed to treat impotence, fever, cancer, hangovers and other medical ailments.

In reality, they do no such thing, as they’re made of keratin, the same thing your fingernails are made of. Still, rhino horns sell for close to $30,000 a pound, which is more than gold, which sells at about $22,000 a pound. According to AWF, “At current poaching rates, elephants, rhinos and other iconic African wildlife may be gone within our lifetime.”5

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