Resson Kantai, Projects Officer

Date Published

Kenya’s new President, Uhuru Kenyatta has come out, guns blazing, pledging to “strike a decisive blow” against all those who threaten the environment.

In his inaugural speech on the 9th of April, the President stated categorically, “My fellow Kenyans, poaching and the destruction of our environment has no future in this country. The responsibility to protect our environment belongs not just to the government but to each and every one of us.”

Later, at the opening of parliament, the president went a step further, saying “We are stewards of our environment, holding in trust this Earth for future generations of Kenyans. We have a sacred duty to protect it, our wildlife and our landscape. That is why I will propose legislation to strengthen the protection of the environment.”

From the looks of it, all this good will may result in a much-needed change in the tide for Kenya’s wildlife. In the last Monthly Trumpet, we decried the meager sentences being dished out by the judiciary for wildlife crime and, along with the Kenya Elephant Forum, wrote a letter to the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions demanding the situation be remedied. Help is surely on the way! In an article in today’s newspaper, the Director of Public Prosecutions has pledged to check the situation, speaking about the clear link between wildlife crime and organized crime. He has also undertaken to use different laws, which will result in more punitive sentencing as the country awaits the Wildlife Act to pass through Parliament.

Taking the lead on the use of these laws, a judge at the Kibera Law Courts in Nairobi has slapped a suspect charged with illegal possession of ivory with a bond of KSh5 million (USD$59,000), with a surety in the same amount. This, up from the USD$360 fine we reported in our last issue.

Save the Elephants continues to support all endeavors to keep the momentum up, including writing a letter to the President himself in concert with the Kenya elephant Forum, illuminating the steps we think he should take to bring the poaching crisis to an end. We also continue to make preparations to train magistrates in Samburu/Laikipia to curb the loss of life in our precious, well-studied elephant population.