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New wildlife bill to deter wildlife crimes

Date Published: 10 May, 2012
New wildlife bill to deter wildlife crimes

KWS Director, Julius Kipng’etich delivers a presentation on elephant trends in the country at the KWS headquarters during a press conference on the status of wildlife in Kenya on May 8,2012.

In line with the provisions of the new constitution, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has introduced quarterly media briefings to ensure the public have regular access to information related to wildlife conservation in the country. Speaking during the first press conference of its kind at the KWS headquarters, KWS Director, Mr Julius Kipng’etich, said the move is to ensure the public and media have a greater perspective on what is aired in the mainstream media. “The Bill of Rights Section 35 gives right to Kenyans on access to information and KWS is keen to align its wildlife laws and policy to the constitution,” Mr Kipng’etich said.
The Director delivered a power-point presentation at the press conference on KWS’s role in the economy and the status of wildlife in the country with key emphasis on the elephant, black rhino and the lion species. He also highlighted the causes, hotspots and KWS’s responses to the situation of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya. KWS currently spends an average of Sh200 million on compensation arising from human-wildlife conflict related cases.

In the last five years, the Kenyan government has raised compensation on human injury caused by wildlife from Sh15, 000 to Sh50,000 and consolation of death from Sh30, 000 to Sh200,000. In the proposed new wildlife bill, the rates for consolation of death are set to be revised further up to Sh1 million. Compensation of property is also set to be incorporated in the bill. During the Q&A session, the poaching menace featured prominently where the rising incidences of poaching across the country came into sharp focus. However, the Director assured the public that Kenyan’s wildlife is safe and KWS is doing all in its power to reduce poaching incidents to its bare minimum. Mr Kipng’etich attributed the menace to the current existing weak wildlife laws where wildlife related crimes are treated in the court of law as a misdemeanour and a lesser crime.
“Under the new bill awaiting passage by parliament, wildlife-related crimes will now be considered as an economic crime which will carry stiffer penalties of up to five years in jail, a million shillings plus fine or both, “ the Director said. The media present were also informed on the creation of a new designation of KWS Spokesperson, Mr Paul Mbugua who is an Assistant Director, Conservation Education and Extension. Mr Mbugua will be authorised to speak on behalf of the Director and KWS. “However, the Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Paul Udoto’s function remains as before and will continue acting as the KWS media contact,” Kipng’etich said.