Kenya will now punish poachers with the death penalty

March 26th, 2019

Since the realization of unique and interesting animals roaming the wild, there have been poachers on the hunt for them. Though this is a problem all over the world, Africa has one of the highest poaching rates, due to the high level of rare and endangered species. To put it in perspective, there are less than 1,000 rhinos left in Kenya largely because of poaching. In 2017, poachers were responsible for the death of 69 elephants and 9 rhinos, a sad statistic for animals that are already endangered.

Many animals like rhinos and elephants roam their natural habitat, but many live in sanctuaries, what should be a safe space for various species of animals to be rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild. However, animals aren’t always safe here either. A sanctuary with hundreds of acres is difficult to patrol at all times.

Kenya is on of the first countries to enforce the death penalty of poachers caught in the act.

“Not only can Kenya Wildlife Service catch wildlife criminals, but now they have the capacity to ensure those criminals are convicted under Kenya’s robust laws,” says Max Graham of Space for Giants, an organization on a mission to create a future for African elephants and the landscapes they depend on. “a ranger in the field should not have to experience the frustration of confronting a criminal they arrested a week earlier, walking free again because of an acquittal. This is a critical step in the battle against illegal wildlife trade.”

“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,” says Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala. “However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.”

Poachers are after pelts, rhinoceros horns, and elephant tusks mostly due to them being the most valuable part of the animal. The animal is often killed or worse, left to suffer after poachers have gotten what they wanted. Without much protection, animals like elephants are more susceptible to predator attacks.

With any large political action such as this, controversy follows. The United Nations is against the death penalty and looking to stop capital punishment across the world. People also took to social media to voice their thoughts, some siding with Kenya calling the punishment “fantastic news” and others agreeing with the UN, saying that these laws should never happen.

Last March Sudan, the last male northern rhino was put down at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Richard Vigne the head of the conservancy, said that the death of Sudan would be remembered forever as a signal to the world, and with Kenya leading the conservation efforts with their new harsh punishments for poachers, hopefully less animals will face the extinction that so many other species have thanks to this crime.

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