“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”
2011 – Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching
2012 – 384
2013 – first half of year 117
Total estimated population of elephants in kenya – 35,000
Africa was home to millions of elephants until the mid 20th century. The 1980s saw the first major wave of poaching putting numbers down to 600,000. Today Africa’s elephant population is about 472,000
Increase in population and the new resurgence of poaching put elephants at enormous risk.
Kenya’s current wildlife act caps punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes at a maximum fine of 40,000 Kenyan shillings = 470 dollars and a possible jail term of up to 10 years.
Last month, a Chinese smuggler caught in Kenya with a haul of ivory was fined less than a dollar a piece.
The smuggler, who was arrested carrying 439 pieces of worked ivory while in transit in Nairobi as he travelled from the DRC to Hong Kong, was fined $350 and was then set free.
Such fines pose little if any deterrence with experts suggesting one kg of ivory has an estimated black market value of some $2,500.
The Kenya Wildlife Service is a very serious force taking security of elephants as its number one challenge and the newly proposed Kenyan law to beef up sentences is an important step forward.
Elephants need all the help they can get.