Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has offered a 21-day amnesty for the surrender of any wildlife trophies which are held without a Permit issued by the Service.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Natural Resources, and Regional Development Authorities Prof. Judi Wakhungu extended the amnesty when she briefed the media on the upcoming burn of elephant ivory and rhino horn set for April 30, 2016.
“The amnesty is effective from today March 30, 2016. Anybody holding any ivory, rhino horns or any other wildlife trophies or jewelry or trinkets made from these materials should surrender them to the KWS Director General at the KWS headquarters,” said Prof. Wakhungu at the Ivory burning site in Nairobi National Park where she gave the media brief.
These items can also be surrendered to the Assistant Directors at KWS regional offices in Mombasa, Voi, Nyeri, Marsabit, Kitale, Nakuru, and Meru National Park. “Those who take advantage of this amnesty will not be punished”, assured the cabinet Secretary.
Prof. Wakhungu said poaching of elephants and rhinos and illegal wildlife trade is a major problem across much of Africa as it threatens the very survival of these iconic species. “Poaching is facilitated by international criminal syndicates and fuels corruption; it undermines the rule of law and security and in some cases, provides funding for other criminal activities. This not only harms the sustainable economic development of local communities but also national economies”, said the Cabinet Secretary.
She said Kenya has in the past three years redoubled its efforts and relentlessly implemented a number of measures directed at combating elephant poaching and the illegal trade in elephant ivory within and across its borders. Such efforts include,
- The implementation of a National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) focusing on the formulation of effective wildlife legislation with heavy penalties and its efficient and effective enforcement mechanism as a deterrent to wildlife crime,
- National inter-agency wildlife law enforcement cooperation and collaboration,
- International and regional wildlife law enforcement cooperation and outreach,
- Public awareness and education.
These actions have resulted into seizures of contraband ivory at the country’s major entry and exit ports and reduced the levels of poaching. Kenya has also made remarkable progress in curbing poaching and trafficking in wildlife. In 2014, 164 elephants were poached in the country which significantly reduced to 96 in 2015. In 2014, 35 rhinoceroses were illegally killed compared to 11 in 2015.
Prof. Wakhungu cited last year’s national audit of Kenya’s stockpile of the elephant ivory and rhinoceroses horn for enhanced monitoring and management, at which we recorded 135.8 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns as a key milestone in the country’s conservation efforts.
She said although the destruction of ivory and rhino horn will not in itself put an end to the illegal trade in these items, it demonstrates Kenya’s commitment to seeking a total global ban in the trade of ivory and rhino horn.