NAIROBI: Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Thursday launched the construction of a state-of-the-art facility that will be used to preserve exhibits required to prosecute criminals involved in illegal trade in wildlife products.
The evidence storage room, whose construction will be financed by Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to the tune of 5 million shillings (50,000 U.S dollars), will boost prosecution of poachers and ivory traffickers.
“A modern storage facility for exhibits that are perishable will enhance prosecution of individuals who are accused of involvement in wildlife crimes,” said Philip Muruthi, vice president for Species Conservation at AWF. He said the modern exhibit storage facility will boost Kenya’s efforts to eradicate poaching of iconic mammals like elephants and rhinos through speedy prosecution of offenders.
“The evidence room will promote the broader wildlife conservation agenda in Kenya through curbing illegal trade in trophies, “said Muruthi. He lauded Kenya’s success in the war against poaching thanks to enhanced patrols in wildlife sanctuaries and community engagement but urged greater action on trafficking of wildlife products through the country’s ports of entry.
Muruthi said that AWF will support construction of additional evidence storage facilities in wildlife sanctuaries spread across the vast Kenyan plains.
John Waweru, director general of KWS said the government has prioritized investments in technology and manpower required to boost tracking, arrest and prosecution of poachers.
“The importance of a modern storage facility for exhibits cannot be underestimated as the country renew the war against wildlife crimes,” said Waweru.
It will help us deal with loss or tampering of evidence that has hampered prosecution of criminals who are slaughtering giant land mammals for their trophies,” he added.
Nancy Kabete, acting director for Security at KWS said that construction of the evidence storage room will raise the bar in prosecution of wildlife crimes amid Kenya’s push for total ban on global ivory trade. “The facility will go a long way in ensuring the Chain of Custody is not interfered with, which will meet the stringent international standards of how to deal with exhibits and present them in court,” said Kabete.