Punitive laws fail to reduce wildlife crime, court report shows (Kenya)


Gilbert Koech, The Star

Date Published

See link for photo. 

The war against wildlife crimes in Kenya is far from over, despite punitive laws in place.

The third series of court monitoring report is dubbed Eyes in the Courtroom.

It was carried out in 121 courts between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 to examine how well the Wildlife Act is being enforced.

Eyes in the Courtroom’s ability to maintain a presence in every court trial was limited and as a result only ongoing cases relating to elephant ivory ( 95 cases), rhino horn ( 7 cases), sandalwood cases ( 34 ), bush meat cases ( 27 cases), pangolin scales ( 1 case), cape eagle ( 1 case), involving law enforcement officers ( 10 ) and foreigners ( 7 ) were tracked from hearing to hearing until their date of determination.

During the two-year period, 1,958 people were arrested and charged with 2,610 wildlife crime related offences in 957 cases.

Most arrests were made in Tsavo, Mt Kenya, Amboseli, Meru National Parks, Laikipia and South Kitui National Reserves, Maasai Mara, Arabuko Sokoke and Kakamega Forest Reserves.

Taita Taveta, Makueni, Kakamega, Laikipia, Narok, Meru, Kitui, Nairobi, Kajiado and Kilifi are counties where most arrests were made. Kenya Wildlife Services made 1,292 arrests ( 66%) while the National Police Service made 666 arrests ( 34%).

This was mainly through intelligence tip-offs and detection controls at road blocks and border entry points. Arrests made in Nairobi and Mombasa related to seizures of wildlife products at JKIA and the port of Mombasa. 

Twenty-one suspects trafficking in wildlife products were apprehended connecting and transiting through JKIA terminals with only one arrested for the illegal export of wildlife products through the port of Mombasa.

Four hundred and twenty-eight court cases directly involved wild animals or parts from 48 wildlife species. Of these, six per cent species are endangered, 8 per cent species are near threatened, 19 per cent species are vulnerable. Forty four per cent of species trigger little concern and 23 per cent are not assessed as endangered as per International Union for Conservation of Nature classification standards.