Najib Balala, The Tourism & Wildlife Minister of Kenya, has recently announced that wildlife poachers in Kenya will face the death penalty.

Although, the minister’s proposal hasn’t been officially enacted into law yet, Balala explained to China’s Xinhua News Agency that the death penalty for wildlife poaching had been an on-going debate in the past years but with the latest decision would very soon become a capital crime.

Existing laws against the killing of wild animals in the east African nation are insufficient, Mr Balala said, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

While this measure may seem tough, it is a last resort attempt to deter people from slaughtering Kenya’s rapidly decreasing wildlife population. Balala reportedly said:

 “We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of U.S. $200,000. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.” (1)

Kenya is one of the last African countries that still have a variety of treasured species in its national parks and reserves, such as zebras, lions, hippos, black rhinos, buffalos, giraffe and ostriches. (1)

In the previous year 69 elephants (Adult and Young) – from a population of 34,000, and 9 black rhinos – out of a population of fewer than 1,000 were slaughtered in the African country.

This latest decision is expected to put tension on the relationship between Kenya and the UN, which is against the death penalty for all crimes worldwide.

UN General Assembly resolutions have called for a phasing-out of capital punishment, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights advocates its universal abolition.

When compared with the past years, wildlife hunting in Kenya is actually on the drop today. Kenya’s tourism chiefs says, the drop can largely be attributed to more serious wildlife law enforcement efforts and increased investment in conservation.

 “These efforts led to an 85 per cent reduction in rhino poaching and a 78 per cent reduction in elephant poaching, respectively, in 2017 compared to when poaching was at its peak in 2013 and 2012 respectively,” the ministry said.

The Chinese demand for ivory and rhino horn is one of the greatest threats to the survival of these species. Above is just another ordinary ivory shop located in Hong Kong.

China has long been one of the world’s biggest markets for ivory, but as of January 1, 2018 all trade in ivory and ivory products in the country is illegal, but black markets still remain active for elephant Ivory and rhino horns which are sought out by poachers, as the horn and ivory are believed to treat impotence, fever, cancer, hangovers and other medical ailments. (2)

But the sad truth is they do no such thing, as they’re made of keratin, the same thing that’s in your fingernail. Still rhino horns sell for close to $30,000 a pound, which is more than the gold today, 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.” (2)

Furthermore, these animals are part of Kenya; this is how we know this amazing country. These animals are already on the endangered list, poaching is putting them at a great risk of disappearing forever. When considering the high stakes, we will leave it up to you to decide whether a cruel penalty of not.

We truly hope that the warning of capital punishment will be enough to deter poachers from slaughtering these animals for whatever reason so that poaching in Kenya can be ended for good!

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References: Green World Warriors (2), Independent (1)